Saturday, December 26, 2009

This Week's Agents of Peril Strip

I took a little break this last week because of Christmas to devote my time to family. Now, the good day has gone by again, family has returned to their various homes, the cookies are gone, and it's snowing outside like nobody's business.

It's also time to get back up on the comic making horse and ride this beast... which I'm excited about, because that's what this Blog is (mostly) all about.

Oh, and for this coming week, I hope to have something else to show for my work these last few months... in defiance of the delay causing -- frustration creating, now over virus war.

But that's for later, here's this week's Agents of Peril. As always, click on the image to see the larger version.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Remembering Made For TV Terror

Maybe it's just because I have a cold and couldn't sleep, but my headcold addled brain kicked in making me think of, dare I say it, the Golden Age of TV movies.

What's that I'm talking about? Way back when, I was a kid trying to watch anything that was remotely horror or terror, at times these TV network produced Movie of the Week flicks filled in the need for scares until the usual weekend monster flicks... in my case, in Chicago, that was Creature Features and Screaming Yellow Theatre (as well as the Saturday-Sunday channel 32 afternoon Sci-Fi slots, usually home to AIP flicks and their kin). This was in the days when everybody had less than 10 TV channels and the video tape recorder was something we couldn't even imagine.

It was, at least in the 70s, when network television realized they could churn out their own movies... which were definitely low budget and reminiscent of B movies in the 40s. The makers of these films seemed to do wonders with their meagre budgets, creating inventine and, at times, compelling and damned scary fare. The big thing, though, was due to the limited channels we had, just about everyone caught The Night Stalker, for example.

Now, I know I'm gonna miss some, probably some of your favorites, only because I'm talking about what I actually saw then, not later. Here are some of my faves in no particular order:

The Night Stalker (1972)
I was 11 or 12 when this hit our TV screens. You've all seen it , but maybe aren't aware what a groundbreaker this film was. I had seen vampire movies before, particularly the Universal stuff and some Hammer films, but this gritty vampire movie set in the underbelly of Las Vegas struck a cord. For years it was one of the highest rated TV movies ever... and it scared the heck out of me. In particular the ending wherein Kolchak (Darren McGavin, perfectly cast) goes into the vampire's house (alone! WTF!!!), bumping around, making noise... and then the blood sucker gets home. Is there anything more creepy than Barry Atwater's growling, inhuman vampire? Not on that night there wasn't.

Duel (1971)
Scary and still exciting after all these years. Back then, my youthful brain was trying to understand what bug was up the truck driver's ass. Dennis Weaver was great as a guy caught up in a deadly cat and mouse game with a monster truck (it was a monster, after all) and he was the mouse. Is it a happy ending when the film's lead goes coocoo, laughing in the desert dust?

Trilogy of Terror (1975)
I have very little memory at all of the first two stories in this film... but we all remember that crazy ass wooden doll (the Zuni Fetish) running around screaming his gobbledygook, chasing Karen Black with a steak knife. I had a hard time going to sleep after this one, my friends.

Moon of the Wolf (1972)
After a few of those TV movies that had a twist ending wherein the supernatural death dealer was actually just some crazy human killer, this flick had my young brain on edge. Squinty-eyed, seemingly digestive plagued, David Janssen, ends up being on the track of a real Lawrence Talbot-like werewolf. This film also deals out some anti-readneck angst, so popular in its era.

Gargoyles (1972)
Okay, maybe they spent some money on this one, with the budget going to make all those nifty gargoyle costumes. Cornel Wilde and his daughter are writing a book on the paranormal when he is drawn to a desert town (the desert is a strong factor in a lot of these movies) with some ding dang gargoyles hiding in the caves outside of town. Bernie Casey played the gargoyle leader, but Vic Perrin provided the dubbed in voice. Still a great, fun monster movie... though not as scary as it was when I was a kid. I dug this movie so much when I first saw it that I ripped off the gargoyle leader design and drew comics about him.

A Cold Night's Death (1972)
Nevermind the Beatles-inspired title... This flick is an almost forgotten gem that scared the shit out of me. Scientists Robert Culp and Eli Wallach are working on a project that involves using monkeys in a distant snow bound arctic base (and I lived in the midst of snow bound countryside outside of Chicago). Strange stuff starts happening and you begin to wonder if one of them has gone crazy killer nuts. The answer is provided in a single scary as shit final shot of a window on a door. Lemme tell you, kiddies, I had a very tough time going to sleep after this one. Damn, it still creeps me out!!! I only saw it one time, though. Anyone got this on video? [SPOILER ALERT: The video clip below does show the end of the film]

That's my off the top of my head, awake in the middle of the night list. Let me see yours.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Making Christmas: And Now For Something Completely Different...

Recently I had the opportunity to do a piece of artwork for my church's weekly bulletin pertaining to the season's Advent ceremonies (covering Joy, Hope, Love, Peace and the Birth of Christ). Before doing it, my mother-in-law, Ula, and sister-in-law, Chris, had mentioned Where's Waldo (as in find him or, in this case, the five aspects). So, I went... Where's Waldo... even including Waldo. If you're a Chicago area person, there's at least one gag that you might catch that others won't (I just thought of one that I wish I had used with Chelvaston the duck).

Anyway, I thought I'd post it here, too. What do you think, sirs?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Creepsville & Aztec Mummy T-Shirts

It's the holiday season and... you know that means some kind of plug. Okay, but this year you can give something that may well completely confuse someone you love. At the very least, they might say, "Where on Earth did you get that?!"

So, I'm serving up 3 swell shirt images to wear proudly: 2 different Creepsville designs and... dare I say it... yes, I'll say it... the Aztec Mummy. These shirts (and other stuff) are being offered through Cafe Press, which I've seen good work done with my stuff previously.

Click on the images here to see the larger versions. If you're interested in buying them, click on any of these links below.


I'm From Creepsville

The Robot Vs. The Aztec Mummy

Meanwhile, I'm interested in getting some feedback. The Laughing Reindeer is primarily a focus point for my creativety, but I also believe in the idea of "Find something you really like doing and then find a way to make a living doing it." Honestly, I don't think just selling t-shirts will do that, and I'm actually having some fun regardless.

Fear not, this page is not a catalog, but from time to time I will be serving up some other shirt ideas (among other things) I've been thinking about and put together.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

"New" Agents of Peril Strips Begin!

I'm finally back after the battle of the computer viruses.

I'm also glad to say that with this posting I've caught up and surpassed where I was with my Agents of Peril rescans. This posting has the 7th installment rescan, which is the last of the replacement scans of the old low-res strips I had already posted here.

This posting also picks up where I left off with a new scan of the 8th installment, previously and only seen in a tiny scan years ago. Click on the images to see the larger versions.
Glad to be back, and I hope you enjoy them!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Are We Still Here...? War Is Over!!!

It took all day for it to finally happen. I took my antiquated custom created harddrive out into the cold, cold day. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating... it was actually nice and sunny but still a bit brisk. Anyway, forget the battles, it looks like the war has been won. Roy Ware (his excellent Black Sun Blogsite is linked in the right column) called me up and ordered me to bring my 'puter over and he'd take a stab at getting rid of pesky viruses.

I won't bore you will the details, but it worked! Okay, I'll bore you. We ran the machine through a number of anti-virus/anti-malware programs which took the whole day, because at first there were plenty. Soon enough though, there were none. No more virus problem. I was actually able to get back on my Blog again.

The war is over (crossing my fingers big time). A big thanks goes out to my buddy, Roy (Thanks to Don Simmons also, for his great information). Gotta get back to work!!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The War Goes On

This whole month has been particularly frustrating because I've been battling and losing a war with computer viruses. The latest wound to my computer has been an inability to get on the Internet at all. So, I guess I'll just have take it in and have it worked on... which drives me even more crazy! I'm in a particularly creative mood and I'm getting lots of stuff done. Okay, the computer issue has nothing to do with my creating artwork, but there's things I want you to see. I have no idea how long it will take to get fixed, but it's better than wanting to take a hammer to my hard drive.

Let me be honest here... my friend Roy Ware (creator of the Black Sun Blog) has offered to post my stuff for me, which I will most likely do. It's just the loss of convenience that's taken out. I miss the ability to write and post anytime of the day or night.

Meanwhile, I've been working away at my Roadside Horrors website... but am currently unable to update it, too. RH is fun but also lots of work. I do a lot of research, part of which involves using the Internet. Also, my brother and a buddy of his did a video piece for the site, the first of which I hope will be many (as well as some of my own creation).

Boy, am I being a whiney baby or what? Maybe I am. Oh, well... back to work on that Creepsville stuff or Monster Patrol or Secret Project #1 or... The battle continues, but I'll be damned if I'm gonna lose the war!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Agents of Peril: The Rescans Continue

Here are two more rescans of the Agents of Peril online comic that are much larger and much more clear than the original scans I had posted. These are numbered 5 and 6. Click on the images to see the larger versions.

I’ve also gone back and taken out all those inferior scans I had posted previously. If the Blog entry had material that I felt was important, meaning in the text, I left that up but noted that the art has been taken down.

Very soon now, I will be posting artwork that many of you haven’t seen… starting with #8. Hope you enjoy them!

Laughing Reindeer At War Update

I’m still dealing with virus problems, I guess. It seemed like everytime I thought it was over with, I connected to something and my Avast program kicked in with a siren and a voice telling me something like, “Warning! Warning! Avast has detected a Virus!” More often than not, it was a pain-in-the-arse, friggen Trojan virus that I can’t seem to beat, no matter what anti-virus, anti-malware programs I try. This virus has beaten Search and Destroy and Malwarebytes programs, either stopping them from operating at all or just evading their system scans.

But all of a sudden today, I was able to reconnect to Blogger. Is it possible? Will it work? It seems so. I hope so!!!

So, this also gives me a chance to give a shout out to one of my best buddies in the world: Roy Ware. If my virus issues start again, Roy’s going to help me post my stuff. If you haven’t seen Roy’s Black Sun site, check it out via the link in the right column of this page.

In fact, check out Roy’s story on his son Christian’s encounter with Toho film legend Kenji Sahara. It’s a story that any Monster Kid will dig… and you might even get a little misty-eyed.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Laughing Reindeer At War

I knew it was coming, but what a pain in the arse. My computer is fighting a losing battle with viruses. As a result, I'll be down for a bit taking care of this momentary problem.

On a positive note, this time will be used in getting ahead offline on the Secret Projects (all 1012 of them... just kidding, make that 1009), Agents of Peril, scans of stuff you may have never seen, and more.

I'll be back!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Happy Halloweenland From Creepsville

Just in time for Halloween, I've decide to repost the entire 5th issue of my Creepsville comic book series.

A few years back I had a website called Monster The site featured articles, comics (including the Creepsville and Agents of Peril online strips), and Roadside Horrors, my spooky online travel guide. One Halloween I got ambitious, scanned Creepsville #5 and post it online... wherein Rat Malone released creatures from an otherdimensional world called Halloweenland into his home town. I had a great time drawing it.

"Halloweenland" was the last story published in the 5 issue run of the Creepsville GoGo Comics run. There are two more issues drawn: a Christmas story that takes a loving jab at the classic The Thing From Another World and the previously mentioned "Dangerous Spooky Theater" story. Both stories will eventually see the light of day... in color.

Okay, never mind my hot air. Read the comic! (click on the image to see the larger version.) Have a great, safe and Happy Halloween.

PS. Creepsville, its logo, this story, and all related characters are (c) & TM 2009 Franklin J. Kurtz. All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Agents of Peril 4: Rescan

Here, again, is the fourth Agents of Peril strip, rescanned at a size that allows the artwork to shine. I'm thinking I may remove the posts that had the original, much smaller scans. What do you think?

Regarding my other projects... some time back I showed you all a colored version of the Johnny Ruckus/Monster Patrol comic story from Big Bang Comics. I'm just about done with that. When I do finish, I will be posting the entire full color version here. I'm having a lot of fun with it.
Meanwhile, Secret Project #1 is making large strides. I've been doing lots of inking... and the pages are begging to be colored. All will be revealed soon. Thanks for your patience!

I have to add again that I'm having the most fun I've had in a long time doing comics! The more I do, the faster I seem to be getting.. without a loss of quality.

My biggest fear in the years of my creative "break" had to do with the fact that I have Parkinson's Desease, something I've mentioned before. I feared that my anal craziness in inking, particularly evident on my Agents of Peril work, would no longer be possible. Self doubt is a terrible thing, but my urge to draw plus encouragement by my wife and family made me pick up the brush and pen again. It was a shakey start (literally) but I learned that I really had nothing to fear. I also learned that when I get down to drawing, the shaking stops (not that I shake all that much, really). Even if there's no cure, I'm beating the desease.

Having said that, I wish I could show you all that I've been doing. Of course, I will.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Agents of Peril Rescans 2 & 3

In the midst of all this Aztec-Mummy-Roadside-Horrors stuff I've been posting of late, I haven't forgotten my comics work.

I'm still working hard on the various Secret Projects (numbering about 27 of them... just kidding). I can hardly wait to let 'em loose, but wait I must until I have enough done to breath a little easier... or so I hope.

Meanwhile, here's two more of the larger scans of Agents of Peril that show so much dinky ink details on them that I've just gotta have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder... or I'm just really anal. retentive.

I hope you like them!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Coming Sooner Than I Thought - Pull Over For Some Roadside Horrors

I mentioned the Roadside Horrors section of my old Monster Shindig website earlier today, and then something unusual happened...

It's coming back faster than I expected.

Here's what's up: My brother, Dave, and I were on a long roadtrip this last weekend to help our our folks at their retirement farm in Kentucky. On the way there, we got to talking about Roadside Horrors. Okay, RH was my online travel guide to weird and spooky spots across the USA and Canada, packed with links and, perhaps more importantly, maps to get to these spots. My bro thought it was pretty cool and strongly encouraged me to bring it back with an offer I couldn't refuse.

Based on the website traffic logs I was getting at that time, that section was the most popular part of the Monster Shindig website. It came to an unfortunate temporary end due to my health issues a few years back. But it's coming back. And when it does, I'll post the new URL. In a short amount of time, pages will reappear. Initially, the pages will seem like they're the old ones from before, but I've already done weeks of rewrites, link checking, some slight redesigning and more.
I'm also hoping to get back previous contributors. (Are you up for telling your story of the asylum, Greg?)

Having said that, my plans are to expand the format slightly. This is something I wanted to do before the site fell... something focusing on the readers' own true-life spooky stories. Do you have a really creepy, true story to tell that happened to you? Tell me about it, and it will become a part of RH.

I'm even toying with doing some original (non-fiction) comics for the site.

I hope you enjoy the Roadside Horrors relaunch as much as I think I'll have doing it, again.

And, no, I haven't forgotten Secret Projects 1 & 2 (and 3?). I've been working hard on those as well. To say the least, I'm having a great time!

Just in time for Halloween... Cool.

Kangaroos Invade Illinois - It Really Happened (Or Did It?)

This month is the 35th anniversary of a notably bizarre, if not particularly spooky phenomenon that happened near where I live.

Just for the fun of it, and it being Halloween season, I thought I’d drop this little paranormal tidbit in just for the heck of it. The story turns up again and again on the internet, mainly because of Loren Coleman’s books on cryptozoology and unusual phenomenon, my fave being Mysterious America. This bit was from my late website’s Roadside Horrors section (by far the site’s most popular feature at that time). Roadside Horrors was devoted to telling about and providing directions to paranormal or oddball locations in the US and Canada.

RH, which I’m also working on updating, will be back in the near future (but not for Halloween this year). Here’s what I wrote:

Mystery Kangaroos of Illinois

Plano, IL

October-November of 1974 saw a truly peculiar series of sightings taking place simultaneously from inner city Chicago on out to the far west small town of Plano, IL. On October 18, Chicago police officers encountered an angry kangaroo. Cornered in an alley with a fence in the back, the out of place beast hissed at police officers attempting to subdue it. The animal took flight, easily hopping over the fence and disappearing physically though remaining a part of Chicago’s weird lore.

In subsequent days, the kangaroo, or others of its ilk, popped up around the city and in the suburb of Oak Park.

Finally, in November, a kangaroo was sighted by a local police officer heading home late on a country road outside of Plano, IL. The animal hopped off into the dark woods. In days following, a group of teenagers claimed to have seen it, though the beast(s) turned up simultaneously in Chicago.

By November 6, the kangaroo flap moved over to Indiana, though Plano remained in a strange spotlight with locals trying to figure out what sort of animal it was if it wasn't a kangaroo. I lived in the area at the time and still remember the brouhaha over all this. The local radio station, WSPY, was talking about it all the time, putting forth their opinions (mostly hallucinations) and generally making fun of it.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Creepsville, The Aztec Mummy, and the Comic That Almost Was

While digging through the tombs downstairs last week, looking for my Agents of Peril original artwork, I stumbled upon some interesting artifacts. Appropriately, there were some interesting items related to the Aztec Mummy and Creepsville. Therein lies a story of sorts.

Years ago, Greg Hyland (creator of the great Lethargic Lad comic strip) and I came up with a scheme. We both had an odd affection for a series of ultra low budget horror films made in Mexico about Popoca, the Aztec Mummy. If you haven't seen them... and you have an affection for atmospheric, creeky old black and white horror with some interesting dubbing... they're representative of how much fun Mexi-horror can be. Anyway, the plan was that Greg would have Popoca dragging his crumbly behind through a series of adventures in Lethargic Lad searching for his stolen gold breastplate. Eventually, his adventure there ran its course and at some point, Popoca would appear in the Creepsville strip continuing his search. We actually did this in our individual strips, with my Creepsville portions running for a short time on my now defunct Monster Shindig website.

Creepsville, for those who don't know my stuff that well, was my loving tribute to those great, old, low budget monster movies of the 50s and 60s, featuring the Malone family living in the titular town where all those monster movies really happened. I have a confession to make. For a period of time there, I was tired of drawing the comic, thinking I had run out of ideas, which in turn prompted me to create other comics like Agents of Peril and Monster Patrol. I simply stopped working on the online strip, and that was that.

It's weird how you can turn your back on something and then it comes back and kicks you in the butt. Creepsville did that to me. Years later, I was contemplating taking the Monster Shindig website editorial and doing a print edition one-shot, featuring articles and some comics. An idea popped into my head of doing a few pages of Creepsville, just for fun... and wait a minute... what about that Aztec Mummy story... and, hey, there's an idea that I hadn't thought of... what if Popoca fell in love with Betty Malone... I've gotta draw this. I penciled an 8 page story like that. I have to admit that the inking has gone very slowly, mainly because at the time I was struggling with a number of health issues. It's in the vaults, and I have it... and I'm planning on eventually posting the story here.

In the meantime, I thought I would not only post the old Creepsville strips with Popoca but also some pencil roughs I did for one Monster Shindig cover concept featuring the story. It's actually one of my favorite pieces, because rather than taking a shot at the typical cringing helpless heroine images of this era, my characters are just having fun. All of a sudden, I feel very Footloose.

And if you like the Aztec Mummy, there's more... aw, never mind. You'll see...

PS. After looking at the strips again, I have to mention that I was also doing parodies of Mexican wrestler movies and, in particular, a film called Ship of Monsters. The latter was never dubbed into English and is a monster, sci fi, comedy, western musical. Really!!! Check it out!!!