Sunday, October 31, 2010

Paul’s Dead: The Paul Lynde Halloween Special

Most of you don’t really know me. You’ve never met me. You probably have no idea what I look like or where I live, but you owe me…

You all owe me big time. Why?

For all of you, I dared to look a demon in the face and spit in its eye. Nay, nay, worse than that… I actually watched the Paul Lynde Halloween Special, shown on the ABC TV network on October 29, 1976. More recently, this program was actually released on DVD.

Now, I’m going to give you a small taste… and a very small taste is all you dare try, because this thing is too terrible to believe.

Okay, I’m no dope. These days Paul Lynde as an entertainer is more a punch line himself than a teller of jokes. This holiday special takes all the worst aspects of the man, crams it into an hour long special, tosses in a few bizarre guest stars, and ends up with a cocktail that is all bad 70’s. In fact, it is so much a part of its era that when you see the title of the program with narration, you may find yourself thinking this is all some ingenious SCTV bit.

I should also note that there is a strong connection to TV kid vid creators Sid and Marty Krofft. Though they are only mentioned in the end credits regarding Witchiepoo as being their creation, almost every guest is involved with a Krofft production of that era.

But how bad is it? It’s so bad that when watching it you may find yourself closing all the curtains, putting towels under the door and whatever else is necessary to avoid letting friends and neighbors know that you’re actually watching it.

So, what’s so bad? Let’s go…

The program opens with a short series of bad jokes wherein Paul dresses up for Christmas, Easter and Valentines Day, pretending to ignore the fact that it is Halloween. His housekeeper, Margaret (played by Margaret Hamilton, the Wicked Witch of the West) chides Paul, until he admits that it is Halloween. Cut to Paul on stage, telling bad jokes and dancing and singing. The dancers (including Donnie and Marie Osmond) finish the number by putting Paul in a garbage can, which explodes.

After the commercial break, we see Paul and Margaret driving to her home out in the country, which happens to be a creepy castle. They ring the doorbell and Witchiepoo (Billie Hayes) from H.R. Pufnstuf answers the door. She’s actually Margaret’s sister. Margaret then assumes her real self, the Wicked Witch of the West. Loads of bad jokes follow, plus a cameo by Betty White (for no particular reason) during which Paul is granted three wishes.

His first wish is to be a truck driver with a big 18 wheeler. Tim Conway appears in the awful sketch as a couple of different truckers doing jokes with Paul through their CB radios. As it ends up, they’re both supposed to be getting married to a waitress at a seedy café. The waitress is played by Roz Kelly… who was the very short-lived Pinky, Fonzie’s girlfriend from Happy Days. She’s attractive, but can’t act or sing at all… which is proved in a singing and dancing number to finish the bit off.

Back at the mansion, Paul does more shtick with the witches… which results in introducing KISS in their TV debut appearance. They do a couple of songs but remain removed from the show’s star.

Next up, comes a second wish from Paul that will challenge anyone with an upset stomach. Paul wishes he was sheik in the desert a la Rudolph Valentino. He’s trying to woo Florence Henderson. Their scenes of kissing and hugging strain the very fabric of sanity and the ability of my stomach to hang on to whatever I just ate.

After a commercial break, we see a small unfunny bit with Margaret and Billy Barty. Paul returns and decides to let the witch sisters use his third wish for themselves. Touched (in the head) by his kindness, they decide they want their home to be a disco. A disco dance number follows, with Florence Henderson singing a song and Roz pretending she has any talent at all (she still doesn’t).

Paul wants KISS to return, this time having them actually talk to the program’s star. Peter Kriss sings (or more correctly, lip synches) “Beth.” The band does another song, but there are still a few more jokes from Paul, Roz, the witches left to be squeezed out. The show ends with the cast dancing and this TV viewer drooling from the mouth while bleeding from my eyes and ears.
This I have spared you. If you think I’ve been exaggerating, check it out for yourself. I dare you…

Oh, and Happy Halloween!

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Real Late Show

Remember the so-called good ol' days when local TV stations would show movies (with commercial breaks) into the late hours instead of reruns of sitcoms and infomercials? I've always been a person who woke up in the night and would turn on the tube and watch a film clunker or gem, get tired and fall back asleep again.

Very often this was when films that would become favorites of mine would be shown.

Here are a few...

When I first saw The Blob, it was on WGN Channel 9 in Chicago. I was familiar with what the movie was, thanks to Famous Monsters of Filmland, but when I finally saw it... well, it was better than I thought it would be with its snappy color, wacky theme song, great low budget FX and Steve McQueen... and The Blob, itself.

Hot Rods to Hell was a regular late night feature on WGN. Dana Andrews gets into a car accident on Christmas Eve and retires to run a motel in a desert town. There, he is forced into tussling with young hot rodding punks fearing that a back injury has weakened him too much. He gets the balls up at the end and just about pounds a kid's head in with a tire iron. Blisteringly bad in a boffo way. Word has it that this flick was originally shot as a TV movie, but the end product was so lurid compared to banal shows like My Three Sons, MGM tossed it out to drive-ins... but, of course, it ended up back on TV.

The Severed Arm was on the nearly forgotten WSNS Channel 44, when it was an English language channel. It's a dreary but effective 70s horror flick, heavy in late night quiet creepiness and low in budget. It's typical 70s trash with no humor (I think) and even less hope of a happy ending. It may have been the first sort of gore movie I ever saw.

Is The Vulture really all that bad? Most of the film is an entertaining little horror flick with the story of a giant vulture killing people, including a boozed up Broderick Crawford. It all has something to do with an atomic experiment and a wacky mad scientist played by Akim Tamiroff. I was a sucker for the film even though the ending was so goofy it had me laughing. Heck, I still am!

Sadly, this film is not on You Tube... but here's the movie poster.

They Came From Beyond Space was a lot like The Vulture with enough to keep you awake until the end ... and an end that was so goofy you wish you hadn't. Hey, hold on there... both films also star Robert Hutton, who starred in a lot of these marginal low budget flicks as a hero, including Invisible Invaders (a rare cowardly, unlikable role) and The Slime People. If I stumbled onto any of these films, I left 'em on.

Anybody out there still awake? Speak up, everyone! What are those late night gems you stayed up watching through bleery, bloodshot eyes? Let me hear from you!

Are there any TV stations out there still showing movies at night? Thank goodness, Svengoolie is still at it in Chicago. It would seem to me that there may be a market to put together a package of low budget junk ready to feed late night fiends like me.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Is This Really Agents of Peril #29!!?

Yes, it is... and that's all I'm gonna say for now.

Also, Nightmare City is back with the 7th page of the comic's first story.

As for Creepsville... well, I hate making excuses after posting what I hoped to do with this Blog, but here's the deal: I'm still coloring the page that would have gone up today. I'll post it next week. My excuse is life... working the day job, being a dad, working around the house, and hanging out with my wife. It will be done and posted here next week. After that, I'll just cross my fingers.

In fact, two weeks from today, the page will take a break, because the whole family is participating in the Avon Breast Cancer marathon walk in Chicago. Colette's sister, Chris, is in the walk. We'll be making sure she has water and food along the way.

As usual, click on the images on this page and the much larger versions will appear as if by magic before your bedazzled eyes.
See you next week on Memorial Day weekend. And as H.R. Pufnstuf said, "Keep those cards and letters comin'."

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Creepsville Toy Pirates #3 and Agents of Peril #28 -- Pretty Much Says It All...

Here are this week's installments of Agents of Peril & the Creepsville story "Destroy All Toy Pirates."

Rat and Percy make the break into 4 colors in Creepsville, while Frank and Dick are still out of it. On the latter point, I'll just say this for the last time, next week it's gonna get weird in AoP. For how long I cannot say, mainly because I don't want to say.

As usual, click on the images here and they will appear on your browser at the right size to read 'em. If they still look small, hold you cursor over the image and click once. Hopefully that increases the size for you.

What's that? Oh, yes, something is missing...

Nightmare City is taking a one week break due to pesky technical difficulties. It will be back, picking up where it left off.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

At Last: Agents of Peril #27 -- Happy Mother's Day

Maybe a bit later than I would like it to be, but here, finally, is the 27th installment of the latest Agents of Peril comics strip.

Maybe it's appropriate that the strip be presented by itself (at least this week). What I mean is that I'm now journeying into unknown territory with the strip. This installment is the first of the newly wrought installments in an attempt to finish a story that has waited over a decade to get done. (I've made a habit out of doing this... for example, the movie Carnivore I worked on took over 10 years.)

I have to admit that given my Parkinson's condition, I feared that I would no longer be able to draw the sort of detail-obsessed, ink crazy type of work I loved doing years ago... and still do. What do you think?

After this story, there will be more. I'm looking forward to it!

Click on the image above to see the larger scan as it should be seen. I've noticed that my browser tries to shrink the image to fit the window. If you're having that issue, click on the image once and it should grow to full-size.

Oh, and have a great Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Creepsville "Toy Pirates" #2... and Where the Heck is Agents of Peril?

It's Saturday and time for this week's strips: Creepsville, Nightmare City and Agents of Peril... Hold on, where's Agents of Peril?

Ahem... there will be slight delay in this week's AoP update due to minor technical difficulties. Hopefully, later today, this week's strip will be posted. In fact, I'm holding it in my hand... there are Frank and Dick on the moon and that weird alien spacecraft... oops, best keep my yap shut and let you see for yourself later this weekend.

Meanwhile, the second page of the full-color Creepsville story, "Destroy All Toy Pirates" is here... including cameos by a few characters you'll see more of in the future.

In addition, I have page 6 of Nightmare City, featuring Dick Protozoa.

As always, click on the small images on this page to see the larger, correct-size versions.

Also, have a great Mother's Day. Thank your mom for bringing you into this world and being there when this world knocked you down. Give your mom a hug and help her around the house. I'm sure that she has hundreds of flowers to be planted.

What's that, Colette? My wife says thousands. She's a Mom, too. I had best get my work clothes on.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Blathering Self-Indulgence -- The 1st Anniversary of the Laughing Reindeer

Just out of curiosity, I went back this last weekend to see when my first blog entry happened here at Laughing Reindeer World Headquarters, learning (much to my surprise) that it was one year ago today. At that time, I very quietley signed up to Blogspot and posted a nothing bit of smoke about the new site.

In the year that was, I wrote articles devoted to the Mexican Aztec Mummy movies and my favorite 70s TV horror films, brought back my Agents of Peril online strip, relaunched Creepsville (in color) this last weekend, talked monsters in my irregular Confessions of a Monster Kid columns, started teasing about something called Secret Project #1 (still working on it), actually got my wife to read a few things here and there on the blog, wrote about the creative motivation of real-life close brushes with death, corresponded with new and old friends and had general good monster-oriented fun, despite the unusual title for the Blog.

Here's to year 2 and beyond... I can hardly wait to see what happens.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Creepsville Is Here! Plus Agents of Peril #26 & Nightmare City

The Saturday morning line-up of comics here at Laughing Reindeer World Headquarters has just increased. As promised, this week starts what I hope will be a long run of my original Creepsville comic strip.

I have to add that this week is actually the first page of a story originally published as a back-up in the first issue of the second Trollords comic series (ooh, I'm getting dizzy). The story was originally printed in black and white. Starting today and serialized here each week will be that story... but this time in color.

As I was looking at this story, it occured to me that maybe a few of you have no idea what a "Toy Pirate" is. Back in the day (and I suppose there are still some who do this), the action figure toy market was infested with a number of dealers who specialized in high-desire collectible toys, specifically those hard to find chase figures... or short supply figures in cases delivered. Initially, the chase figure might be the toy the company thought might be the least desirable of the line, very often female characters because action figures were considered boy toys. Later, seeing the chase phenomenon evolve into madness, the toy companies might release a short figure deliberately to induce insanity among the toy collectors who just had to have that Punch-Himself -in-the-Head Lex Luthor. Serving this market were Toy Pirates, who did things like buy toys out the back door of large toy chains only to sell them at much higher prices via mail order or toy and comic conventions. They found that some desperate completists (an all too common disease of comic book collectors) would pay the big bucks just so they could show they had Malebolgia.

Now, I'm sure some of you are just thinking, "What in hell is he talking about?" Before you dismiss this outright, Toy Pirate wheeling and dealing had such an effect on the big biz of toys that even the Wall Street Journal looked at the phenomenon in a front page story. In fact, it was that WSJ story that prompted and inspired me to do this draw the story at that time.

Okay, now that I've let the Creepsville genie out of its bottle, what am I gonna do? Well, once I get done posting this story, I will start putting up page-by-page something you Creepsville fans have never seen (with the exception of a teaser piece of art I posted here last year), a complete issue of the original series that was never published with the intriguing title of "Dangerous Spooky Theatre." If that sounds familiar to some of you, go back to some of my previous blogs here and check out the Johnny Ruckus/Monster Patrol story I posted here last year.

Running at about 40 pages, it is the longest story I have ever done in the series. When that finally starts here, I'll provide my usual background info and liner notes on the creation of the comic.

Okay, let us not forget that this week also sees the latest installment of the Agents of Peril online comic strip. I've mentioned in the past that the story is going to get very weird (as if it wasn't already) in the weeks ahead. Even as I worked on the all-new upcoming pages (for the first time in years on this strip), I wondered if I had gone too far.... Hmmm... Nah!

Last but not least, here's this week's latest page from Nightmare City featuring AoP's own Dick Protozoa.

As usual, click on the artwork here and check out the much larger, easier to read and more satisfying scans for fans of insane inking textures that you've come to expect here.
After you've done that, have a great weekend, which carries you through to a great week, great month, great year, great life... and a new era of world peace and stability. Noble Peace Prize administrators should now consider me nominated.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Agents of Peril #25 - Way, Way Out There ... Plus Nightmare City Page 4

Saturday morning again, which means this week's installment of Agents of Peril... which finds our creepy crimefighters going where no cop has gone before.

As has been the case here at the Laughing Reindeer, this week also sees the 4th page of the Nightmare City comic, featuring an early version of Dick Protozoa before he teamed up with Agent Frank.

Click on either of the scanned images here to see them at their appropriate large size.

Meanwhile, coming next week: Creepsville in color! Yep, I said it. Be there, aloha!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Saturday Cartoons - Agents of Peril # 24 & Nightmare City Page 2

The weekend is here, which means that we all have to get to work on our weekend projects...

Oh, it also means the latest installment of Agents of Peril as well as the next page of Nightmare City featuring Dick Protozoa. As usual, click on the images to see the full-size scans.

But, wait, there's more: I mentioned last time that I would be offering 2 new Agents of Peril shirt designs. The first one is an image taken from this week's strip. The second is an image of everyone's favorite Fed, Agent Frankenstein. Click on the link below each shirt design you like, and you will be taken to a page on Cafe Press where you can buy them if you like.

Agents of Peril - Fear in the Woods

Agents of Peril - Agent Frankenstein

In the meantime, have a great weekend and mow the lawn, willya!?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

This Week's New Comics: Agents of Peril 23 - Cripes! -- Nightmare City

Here are this week's new comics: the 23rd installment of the first Agents of Peril story and the 2nd page of Nightmare City. Click on each graphic to see the preferable large scan that makes it all readable.

Also, next week I will be offering up 2 new Agents of Peril shirts via Cafe Press. More on them next Saturday.

Have a great week... and hold someone you love, and let 'em know you do!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Agents of Peril #22 - Shoosh! -- Plus Dick Protozoa In Nightmare City

Here is this week's Agents of Peril comic strip.

As always, click on the small image above to see the strip at a larger, easy-to-read see-all-the-stippling size.

Also, starting this week, I'm going to go back to an Agents of Peril prequel, of sorts.

A couple of weeks ago, I showed you a one-off gag strip featuring Dick Protozoa, but this week the story is more complex than the gag strip. I've also mentioned that the character of Joe, from an earlier installment of Agents of Peril, wasn't just a throwaway character. He was Dick's partner in a comic that I had been working on called Nightmare City.

Nightmare City was created before Creepsville and was a Dragnet-style take off packed with monsters crawling about the city at night. The most obvious Dragnet connection is the narration on the splash page and Joe's name, Joe Monday. In my own way, I was also trying to draw Joe to look like Dragnet creator and star, Jack Webb. Okay, maybe not the most innovative idea, but I was looking to draw a series that was packed with monsters and loads of dark shadows.

The first piece though, was a cover with a familiar creature (particularly if you're from West Virginia) menacing our heroes. There is no story wherein that happens... at least not until Agents of Peril, years later (I never outright dump an idea or character... Agents of Peril and Creepsville are "Green" comic strips, because I never waste an idea and, instead, recycle. Okay, kidding.).

Anyway, the contents of what was going to be Nightmare City #1 were two stories. The first, which I will post here for the first time, a page a week starting next week, was completed. The second story was never finished, and I'm not sure if I want to attempt to do it so many years later. Regarding what that second story is, I'll discuss it in more detail when the time to post it comes up.

As is the case with the Agents of Peril strip, click on the images below to see the larger versions. And before anyone asks, the cover piece was done totally by hand... not a dot of Zip-a-tone was used. Yes, I am that anal.

So, check out the comics. Oh, and have a great holiday weekend!