Thursday, October 28, 2010


Here it is, finally, Halloween time! I'm sure you have assumed, given the image posted here, that Perfect Wife and I have some awesome Halloween plans and costumes to present,  but sadly, no. We will be keeping it "low-key" this  year. No  costumes. No parties to attend. Nothing. 

We will be handing out goodies to any Trick or Treaters that wander by, and watching the various "Hallow-centric" films we've managed to acquire. We won't though, have any big Halloween doings at Casa del Blanco, this year. Maybe next year.

That goes for this blog, too. No really fabulous observations on the holiday this year. For my previous musings on the season, you can always go to the archives on the sidebar for plenty o' my thoughts.

I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday. Happy Halloween to you and yours!

And yes, I really wanna see Perfect Wifey in a Harley Quinn outfit too!

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Frightful Flicks

It's Halloween Time. You can feel it in the air. All those displays of Halloween candy that have been on sale in stores since early August no longer seem out of place. The Christmas merchandise now on sale does, though. (By the way, if you actually bought a bag of  candy in August, with the intention of saving it to distribute on Halloween, would you be able to do so? In our house that sucker would be eaten long before the first day of school, let alone Halloween! We have to buy candy about an hour before the kids come knocking, and even then it's not a certainty there will be any left for the trick and/or treaters!)

Every year at this time, we try to find a spooky film that will fill us with the "Halloween Spirit". We have our traditional favorites, like, "Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein",  and the original "Halloween". This year we also added "Hocus Pocus" to the mix. Not a great film, but it's entertaining, and  Bette Midler is always creepy, of course. A personal favorite of mine is, "Killer Klowns from Outer Space", but that film addresses my own pathologies and isn't everyone's cup o' tea. Perfect Wifey pretty much refuses to watch it again. This is understandable, as she has had to sit through it more times than the director of the film probably did.

Every year,  we try to find a new film to fill us with a fun dose of fear. I thought I had found a winner when I heard about a straight-to-video film called, "Trick 'R Treat". This film received raves from various online wags, so PW and I rented it last week. The film is a comedy/horror anthology set in a small town on Halloween Night. On the surface, it seemed like a winner. It had all  the elements of a perfect creepy movie: A great atmosphere that really captured the feel of a small town on All Hallow's Eve and warnings from the film's  characters  about the perils of not respecting Halloween traditions. Best of all, it featured a creepy little character tying all the stories together: The mysterious, pint-size Trick or Treater, Sam.

Unfortunately, the film was a disappointment. Not a complete failure, but not something I'd rush out to see again, either. The various stories attempted to emulate the tone of the old E.C. Comics, but the stories just weren't interesting, and the payoffs were weak. The character of Sam was a real winner at first, creepy and mysterious with his dirty little  footie pajamas and burlap mask over his big round head. Sam lost all effectiveness though,  when his head was revealed to be a lame ghoulie head. (Oops! I should have preceded that sentence with a SPOILER ALERT! warning. Sorry.) He would have been scarier if the filmmakers kept his appearance a mystery.
PW didn't care for vampires and werewolves being randomly tossed into the mix (Oops, again! SPOILER ALERT!). I think that was the point of that story, though, so I didn't mind. In the end, the film failed to deliver the fun,  scary experience we wanted. We'll have to look for our Halloween scares someplace else.

Maybe Wal-Mart™ is open late.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Planet Terry-fied!

No superhero drawings this time. Promise. Instead, let's hop in the Wayback Machine™ for the story of the images you see here. 

Back when I got out of art school, I really didn't have a "career plan". I just sort of assumed some sort of career opportunity would present itself, and I'd be on my way. That didn't happen, of course. I had to go out and actually search for a paying gig.

What made it harder was that I wanted to draw comic books, and the "funny" style of comics I liked had pretty much dried up. Harvey and Gold key were gone, and I wasn't sure I was a good fit at Archie Comics.  One  place that was publishing the style of comics I liked to draw was Marvel Comics, with their (soon to be short-lived) Star Comics, a line of books "for kids". Apparently, titles like "The Hulk" were considered far too sophisticated for young minds.

I wasn't really crazy about the titles Star was publishing. They seemed watered down versions of the Harvey titles. This was, of course, because the staff of Star Comics was made up of most of the creative team from Harvey, including the great Warren Kremer and editor Sid Jacobson, among others. The art was great, but the stories...? Well, let's just say "Royal Roy" was no "Richie Rich".

Still, Star was publishing stuff I could do, by people I admired, so I set my sights on getting a gig with them. I drew up the samples you see here. The featured character is "Planet Terry", one of the less-derivative books Star was publishing at the time. I put together a portfolio of this and other pages I had done, and made an appointment with editor Sid Jacobson.

It was exciting and terrifying to actually be in the offices of Marvel Comics, a place I had been reading about for years. As I waited for my appointment, though, the thrill wore off. The Marvel Bullpen was far less exciting than it had been described as being. Except for a  few superhero posters, it could have been any office anywhere in the world.

When I was finally escorted to Sid's office, I was pretty confident. I thought my samples were great and I was sure I would walk out with an assignment. (Actually, I still think these pages are pretty good. Especially when you consider that I was  twenty-one  years old! ) Alas, Sid was unimpressed, and thought I wasn't ready. He told me to practice more, but he didn't tell me he'd like to see my progress, or even offer me a glimmer of hope that I might be ready to work there one day. I was devastated, and left the office really P.O.'ed. Sid was I jerk, I felt. He didn't even give me a free tee shirt or anything. I never did work for Star Comics.

The story has a happy ending, though. Eventually, I did break into comics, becoming the household name I am today. I also worked for Sid Jacobson, not on Star Comics, but on various Hanna-Barbera titles he packaged, and on the new line of Harvey Comics he edited. He is a very  dear friend now, and he is still the best boss I ever had. Actually, a few years after we started working together, I told him this story. He had no recollection of the incident, and when I showed him these old pages he said, "I can't believe I didn't hire you! What was I thinking?" I don't know, Sid, but I'm happy we got to work together, and hope we will again some day.

He still has never given me a tee shirt, though! 

(BTW, These characters are  all  still copyright Marvel Comics. Not they they know what to do with them!)

UPDATE: From Sid Jacobson, himself: "I still can't believe I didn't hire you after seeing these pages. They are terrific, for a thirty  or forty year old, let alone a 21- year old. In any case, you'll get that tee shirt one of these days soon".

I'm waiting, Sid!

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