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Levithan?

hellraiser

I just saw this license plate on a car while I was driving to a worksite. Just what I needed to get me back in the mood to work on that Pinhead costume!

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Pinhead makeup application, first attempt

hellraiser

100_3339This is really the moment we’ve been waiting for. We’ve done parts of the makeup here and there, gotten all the prep work done but haven’t done an actual application.  There’s not time to do a test run. Already I can tell this is going to be a crazy long makeup, and I’m not about to waste a couple of hours and a bunch of makeup on a test run like I usually do. This is it.

We begin with some white makeup on the face, right around where the bald cap is going to meet the skin. I wan makeup under some of the cap so if it begins to ride up on my forehead we wont have a flesh toned line where the latex is escaping the skin.

100_3343Next we put the cap on. Time for more makeup. We need to do the whole face, but special attention is paid to that seam. The white greasepaint is what we are using to make it disappear. Adding latex to it would cause a bump, not the smooth surface we need and I can’t run a horizontal grid line across it because the shape would be wrong.

Once my face is white, we begin to draw the grid lightly with black makeup. This is entirely for guidance on where to put the pins, these black lines will be completely covered by the time we are done. The grid is lined up with the bald cap and we follow the vertical lines down, and begin the adding the pins at the 100_3344intersections. This is slow as each has to be applied individually and dried. They don’t feel quite stable but that’s part of what the cotton is for, to add some support. Time to begin cotton process again, bit by bit. Applying all these small pieces was what made the Zombie Spider-man we talked about last Halloween makeup so difficult. It’s dragging this application on as well, really glad the bald cap is already done. Still, between the pins and the cotton grid, we’re still pushing three hours.

100_3360After cleaning up the grid we add some light gray to the corners to add shading and get dressed. The next step is going to be  to create a proper costume, but for now, black cloths a puzzle box and a long coat should give the right impression. Adding a sinister belt and some knives just in time to meet up with Batman.

PINHEAD MAKEUP : COMPLETE

But that’s not really the end of the story. Like I said, I still have to create a proper costume. I can probably get away with a cheap black skirt for the lower part and a long black sleeved shirt for part of the top, but I need to create a vest for the center of the Pinhead costume…and that will also serve as a central part of any other Cenobite costume I make. We’ll be back to the Hellraiser project after I create some more Violent Blue.

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This time Deadpool is the jerk

Marvel Clix

There are times when you see Deadpool sneaking up on someone, he’s stealthed and just being generally annoying. you know an attack will hit and do no damage, but you just feel like you have to take the shot anyhow.

clix heros idea


Pinhead Skullcap phase two

hellraiser

In our last post on the Hellraiser Project we had finally found success in creating nails for the Pinhead Baldcap. That  process was actually a great deal more difficult than I had anticipated, but I’m glad it’s done.

The next step is to create the grid of cut flesh on the top of the head. The idea is that with a bald cap complete with pins and a grid, the rest of the makeup on application day will be half as difficult.

100_3330Back when we were trying out the facial pins, I settled on the cotton ball method of creating the cuts. A little latex, with pieces torn from a cotton ball sticking to it. This is a long process, and it’s giving me an idea of how long this makeup will take to apply. Just creating the cotton grid takes between an hour and a half and two hours. Each bit between the pins has to be added individually, then heated to dry faster. Instead of the long lines that it appears to be, what you are actually looking at is dozens of tiny little 100_3333cotton pieces, four little pieces making up each square.

The next step is to mat it down with fake blood. This is where a creative choice comes in. I’ve seen people do the grid just drawn in with black, I’ve also seen it done in red. I don’t want to do any of that. I’m using blue food coloring to mat the cotton down. Pinhead is frequently shown in a blue light and the color gives an eerie look to him. It also serves to mark out the grid and highlight it, without looking unnecessarily bloody. That’s a principle of 100_3332Pinhead’s look…he cause all this horrific bodily damage, but none of the blood ever gets on him – he always looks crisp, clean. The blue color adds to that stark, clean look. When I apply the makeup, we’ll use the same method, and follow the lines set down for us on the bald cap.  Finally we add white makeup to the squares and clean up some of the edges of the cotton with white greasepaint and a brush. The idea is to create trauma, to look like the skin is puckering where the cuts are, rather than it look like there’s a bunch of makeup in rows on my head.

That’s it. Time to celebrate with some Violent Blue, because the next step is the full application of the makeup.

PINHEAD BALD CAP : PHASE TWO COMPLETE

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Pinhead Skullcap Pass Three

hellraiser

100_3273I think I’ve got it.

The previous two attempts to create a bald cap with pins that matched my facial makeup failed because I was trying my usual methods of creating makeups.

Time for something new.

It came to me when I was looking at the tools I use to apply makeup. Q-Tips. Lots of100_3274 ’em. The shaft is white and soft looking, very similar to the nails I made already. The big difference is that my facial nails aren’t quite as straight as these, but I think there will be enough confusion on my face with all the pins sticking out that you probably won’t notice unless you REALLY study it.

100_3276I started by snipping off the ends of the Q-tips and trimming them down to the right size, using one of my homemade nails for reference. Next I drew a grid on the cap lightly with a bit of black makeup and started to glue the nails in at each intersection. This grid will be pained over with white makeup eventually.100_3277

Trying it on again, the nails still spread nicely, but feel sturdier coming off. No snapping and popping…..

almost none.

A few nails began to fall off. The glue holds, but not enough, because the latex bald cap stretches under it. I went through and reinforced each pin with a bit of liquid latex around the base. Cap comes on and off! Next step will be to create a permanent grid…but first I got to do some Violent Blue cartoons.

PINHEAD SKULLCAP : STAGE ONE COMPLETE!100_3280


Trinity of Sin

DC Clix

Trinity-of-SinI had the dubious honor of playing in a game against the Trinity of Sin this weekend over at Comics are Go!. The game actually turned out to be a three way game, and for the most part, it was two teams trying to take down the Trinity.

What’s the worst thing about playing against the Trinity? It’s not the massive 16 click dial. It’s not even the tough 19 defense it starts out with. It’s not even the occasional poison trait. That only comes up occasionally, when Pandora’s face shows up on the dial. No, the worst part of this thing is the horrifying feedback damage from the mystics keyword. Instead of the normal one click, if you keep all your figures on the team base, you take two clicks of damage every time you make a successful attack.1FCBDthor

Big Mike came in fast and hard with some heavy hitters, hoping to knock down that damage before the feedback destroyed him. I had a similar idea and really thought long and hard  about adding the FCBD Thor to my team. He starts off with a 5 damage and an 11 attack. The problem is, even if he hurdles that 19 defense, he only gets one hit at 5 damage and that’s a charge. Not only is that feedback going to knock his damage down to 4, but he’s also stuck being poisoned knocking him down even further, not to mention being in the line of fire for anyone using pulse wave – a go-to power for dealing with Mystics.

3699I think Pulse Wave could have worked here actually, but so slowly with that one damage at a time trying to chip away at that deep dial. I pulled my Composite Superman and played him at the 80 point level, then pushed him one click where he goes into Pulse wave fro a couple of clicks. Unfortunately, I deployed him badly, then got distracted trying to pick up a Kurreth’s Hammer and got based, then blasted.

My main strategy for dealing with the Trinity ended up being Blackheart. He’s a hefty piece, but he’s a mystic too, and any time he takes damage it would feedback on the Trinity- a good start.

The main reason I choose Blackheart though, was his pets. He comes with two detachable gargoyles. When he mcl1V_DXewdKofWJWVpQntwuses his power of Dark Thunder, a gargoyle detaches and becomes a bystander with it’s own attack and defense and movement. When it’s KOed, it returns to the Blackheart base where it can be summoned again.  I barely moved Black heart all game – in fact the only time he moved is when the red Gargoyle TKed him away from Trinity (on Mike’s suggestion – thanks!). I kept pulling up the gargoyles, placing them in front of Blackheart to protect him from ranged, then the red one would TK the blue one over to Trinity where it would attack. Trinity would then have to destroy it or take poison – taking one of Trinity’s actions. tumblr_mebxcyxotz1r75v8vo1_1280If there was no blue, the red one would make a ranged attack while Blackheart generated another blue one. My allies on the other side would perlex down that massive 19 defense to make it more manageable and I’d keep hitting, which would destroy the gargoyle but never give damage to Blackheart who would just pop another out. It chipped away at the Trinity dial while he was mopping up the other team.

It was fairly effective. We got the dial down to click 11, and I know I couldn’t have done that on my own. That’s why I said it was nice to play this as a three way game.  It gave us both a chance. Still, that Trinity of Sin is a monster piece.

I did find one thing cute. Every time I’d detach the gargoyles, they don’t stand well on their own. They would topple over and I would just lay them on their side. When I’d TK  the blue one over to Trinity, I’d lean it up by Phantom Stranger and say it was nuzzling him. If you can’t beat ’em, annoy them!

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Okay, now that you’ve read that comic, head over to Violent Blue. We’ve got a new strip up today and meet us back here tomorrow!


Pinhead Skullcap Pass Two

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100_3265    Today it’s try two for the skullcap part of the Hellraiser makeup. It turns out that the sculpty pins that we made for the bald cap constantly broke when taking it on and off. We need something sturdier.

Since we need something stiff and sturdy I want to revisit the molding process. I’m hoping that using hot glue and a mold, I can create pins that are sturdy enough to withstand the bald cap being taken on and off, but light enough not to fall off or drag the makeup down. The most important thin here however, is that they look like the model magic pins I will be using on my face.

100_3264We start off with some sculpty and a nail. I like using sculpt for hot glue molds because unlike clay, it doesn’t melt. It’s designed for high temperatures and can withstand the heat of the glue. The glue isn’t hot enough however to bake the sculpt into a hardened mess so it can still be reused. I pressed a nail into the sculpt and carefully pulled it out. The impression looks good, but now we have to see how the glue holds up.100_3266 I coat the inside of the mold with a little vegetable oil. It’ll help the glue release from the mold after it cools. When I pull it out I can immediately see a problem. there’s WAY too much flash. To many ridges and bumps. even painted, this won’t pass for the same kind of nails I have in my face, and I can make nails for facial makeup out of this stuff…it’ll be too heavy. back to the drawing board.

PINHEAD SKULL CAP : FAILED100_3268


Sinister

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Sinister.200x200-75This is one of those movies I really wanted to get around to seeing, but not in the theater.  Just from the commercials it looked like a really interesting premise and what I could see of the monster was brilliant.

The monster really is brilliant. He reminds me quite a bit of what I tried to do with my “Malice” character back in my days writing for Star Trek : Icarus’ Flight. A lot like the character visually, but done better all around.  What’s more, we almost never see the monster. I really mean that. The monster probably has about one full minuet of screen time and that’s spread out through the entire movie. The truth is, the real monsters are his victims….not the ones who die, but the ones who live.

You see, that’s the trick Sinister plays on you. You think you’re going into a horror movie, ad you feel like you’re watching a horror movie, but that’s not it at all. This is a mystery. A bona fide whodunnit with a supernatural element attached around the edges. It’s a genuinely good piece of writing and a reasonably original concept – making it all the more surprising that it got made.

Because I really dig what’s going on here, I’m not going to really give out any plot points. Go see it. Last I checked, it was available from netflix and your local buybacks or record exchange is bound to have a copy. This will scare you, and if you need a palate cleanser afterwards, well, there should be a new Violent Blue up tomorrow!


Year Four

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As we get past the Violent Blue cliffhanger and into Year Four proper, I wanted to say a quick thanks to all of those people who still visit the site and read VB on a regular basis. Over here at the blogsite we’re starting to reprint some of the best strips twice a week, while the main site still runs the current series, and this seems like a good opportunity to do some housekeeping.

It’s been a rough year over at Violent Blue. I promise this year will be more lighthearted. More funny strips and fewer dramatic ones.

For those of you wondering about time frame, I’m not sure how much time has passed between today’s strips and the rest of this weeks. Imagine an average recovery time for a serious accident and a pretty horrible detox. The last few strips were hard enough for me to write. I didn’t feel we needed to go into all of that. Let’s just say it’s been a month or two between end of year three and beginning of year four.

Finally, there have been some questions as to what happens to Violent Blue after the end of year four. As you may or may not know, the story is set to end after a little more than four years. That end is still in sight, but perhaps not as close as I expected. We will go a little into a fifth year with strips as we wrap up the story, but much to my surprise that’s not the end. Readers of this blog will remember I completed the National Novel Writing Month competition. The story I wrote actually serves to tie up a few loose ends left in Violent Blue and addresses some of the things that happened after the series ended. I’ll be illustrating and serializing that novel on the main Violent Blue site as a sort of epilogue and year five. It won’t quite be the same as reading the comic strip but it will extend the life of the series one more year and I hope you all stick around for it. It’s going to be interesting.


Last Weeks Pulls

comics

Spawn_224_pdf_000This week I dipped my toe in a bunch of titles that I haven’t been reading in a long time. The problem with doing this however, is you can feel like you just walked into the middle of a story and end up quite lost.

Spawn manages the feat of making me feel like I’m in the middle of a story I don’t quite understand while at the same time feeding me more of the same old same old. It’s more “Who do you work for????” “Jason Wynn!” “Wynn’s coming for you!” Chains, power  countdown timer, menace. I’ve seen all of t his before. On  the other hand, it’s been a long time since Spawn has been cutting edge. The most revolutionary thing they’ve done in the 21st century was to change the identity of the title character from Al Simmons to ….I don’t even know his name. Perhaps if I cared more….

On the plus side though, this has spectacular art. It’s very similar to Tim Bradstreet, very much like the dark noir look of the best modern Daredevil stories. Last week I mentioned that Jerry Ordway was one of my favorite artists. I’ve always favored a more realistic look to the dynamic, hyper stylized feel of a Liefield or McFarline drawing. This works really well. I’d love to see this guy do a Hellblazer or a Hellraiser.armyofdarkness700

Army of Darkness is always a fun title, but you have to understand, this series has strayed miles from the movies. That makes it easy to feel lost. The thing is though, they haven’t really done any world building. This isn’t a tight continuity. They seem afraid to move far from the established characters and continuity of the films, so we just wander from situation to situation without ever really creating a narrative.

When a female Ash arrived at the cabin (now floating in another dimension, at a causal nexus of some sort), I was really hoping they were making an attempt to integrate the new Evil Dead movie into this series. It would have been a smart move and all this talk of multiverses seemed to point that way. The cliffhanger makes it h01001nothingnovusclear that it’s not.

Finally there was Hawken : Genesis. Despite the fact that there are several gamers in my Violent Blue comic, I’m not one. I built myself a Pac Man Machine and decided I never had to buy another platform.

The point being, I had no idea this was based on a video game. It’s a great idea though. The art is stunning and the concepts are fascinating. I can absolutely see how this would completely flesh out a game world. These are very short stories, about half the size of a regular comic, but well worth it if you can track them down. I ended up having to go online to find the previous entry in the series.

Yd0v_UI also grabbed Extermination. This really seemed like just indie superhero fare, but seemed to get a little dramatic towards the end. I haven’t read enough of this series (this was the first time I’d noticed it) to know if it had earned that kind of theme. I think I’m too lazy to go back and find previous issues though.

I happen to love Sherlock Holmes. My grandmother introduced me to the character when I was a child, but I only really started to appreciate him when I was a teenager and rediscovering it in reading class. I wasn’t this comic to be good. i really do. It has Cwvz_Za beginning and and ending t hat both catch you, but the middle of this book just slogs on. It’s part one of a story so you almost want to give it some slack, but it just doesn’t keep my attention enough and the art in it is awful. Technically good drawing I suppose but it completely misses the soul of the characters and the era. I’m just not into it. I will probably get the second part of this, but it better get real good real quick or I’ll be dropping it.

Speaking of dropping, I think I’m done with new Valiant’s Bloodshot for a while. It’s not a bad book, it just isn’t my thing. I didn’t really get way into the original series and that may be having an effect on me. Archer and Armstrong on the other hand, continues to be a fun ride and genuinelyn_O2_Vl better than it’s predecessors. I like how they are trying to ease some world building into this series by introducing the Eternal Warrior and t he idea of the Geomancer in through this series – and it’s the perfect place for it. Armstrong always put me off a bit in the old Valiant, but I like him quite a bit in this incarnation. Maybe it’s the hair or the better dress sense. I don’t know.

The Green Hornet on the other hand….I do believe they have the shark in their rear view mirror, having jumped it about the time Britt jr and Mulan Kato started gettin’ busy. Now with an attack on the home base…I know these are all classic comic book tropes, but this tc_stw_01_000ikilmseries is only like, two years old. Isn’t it a bit early to be hitting these cliches already? I like some of the extra elements they’ve come up with and the expanded cast, and I’ll keep reading as long as it runs, but I don’t think I’ll really miss it when it’s gone.

I saw there was a new Crow series out and thought I’d give that one a try for old time’s sake.

Why do I keep doing that to myself?

Actually the idea of a Crow at a death camp in Nazi Germany isn’t a bad one, but it’s just not enough for me to care. This concept has gotten so watered down over the years, it almost seems like anyone who dies violently comes xK5L2back as a crow. I half expect batman’s parents to come back as the Crow!

Grifter is still a good series. I’ve heard this one is getting cancelled and that really does make me a little sad. I’m liking it and really enjoying the newer take on the character. This issue has him facing the Suicide Squad which is pretty much just flat out fan service aimed directly at me….or it would be if it were a Suicide Squad I recognized. Still, it’s actually a better handling of most of those characters than I’ve been seeing in thier own book.  I love how he describes them : “Everyone in t he squad is dangerous.They’re Black Ops criminals with nothing to lose”. I’ve never really heard them referd to in that manner before and I love it. This story also establishes a prior working relationship between Grifter and (the new 52 character who isn’t anything remotely like) Amanda Waller. This particular comment alone is enough reason to get this book.

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I miss fat, middle-age Amanda Waller. I totally believed that character WAY more than I do with this young, slim imposter.

Anyhow. Can I talk about She-Ra now?

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adora 1First and foremost, we don’t see She-Ra in this series, we don’t get the entire Secret of the Sword treatment either, but rather we get just before that. This character and series is apparently going to be intergrated into DC’s MOTU series eventually and I can’t wait.

It’s itneresting, they address something I had felt for years – Adora’s costume. In t his she is still aHorde Force Captian, just like in Secret of the Sword. However, in that cartoon, she was wearing the same Adora costume that she wore for the rest of the series (which is fine. I get limited animation and all of that). Essentially a jacket and a nice confy cotten shirt. Everyone else in teh Horde wore armor and bats and sigils and she just didn’t fit. This changes that… and her horde armor is stunning, not to mention the name : Despara. Just great stuff. She fits in better with the Horde here, rather than coming off like a princess wandering through adora 2the halls of evil treading on rose petals all the way….now, she looks evil. Moreover, when she takes that helmet off….she looks damaged. You can see the brainwashing in her eyes, the chopped hair just adds to it all. I love this.

When we open, it mentions that we are on Etheria – in the dark dimension of Despondos. That tells me that we aren’t throwing out all of the previous continuity from the failed MYP series in 2002, and that’s a good thing. While there were elements I really didn’t like about that series (most notably the designs for He-Man and the Sorceress) That series worked very hard to add some mythology to this world that had never been as well developed as it’s contemporaries in Transformers and GI Joe. It added a great deal to the MOTU story and I had feared most of that would have been thrown right out the window since that series was now out of favor.

skeletor1thegroup001That was in fact, enough of a boost for me to finally crack open that copy of the Origin of Skeletor I’d had laying a round for months.

Seriously. We’d gotten what I thought a spectacular origin for him in the MYP series and I was heartbroken that someone was going to come in and just re-write it. It turns out they didn’t exactly re-write it after all.

This story explores Skeletor’s past. Yes, we knew he was actually Randor’s brother Keldor. We had even expected that he was really his half-brother. And we see him treated as the Half-brother by his parents. Always out of favor, always passed over. Interestingly ( and heartbreakingly) enough, Randor is the one standing up for him. He is perhaps the only person ever to really love Keldor. Interesting but predictable. We probably could have guessed most of this.

What no one ever considered before, was that Keldor was the older brother.

Seriously. This changes everything.

Before, he was just some megalomaniac. He was just a James Bond villian who wanted to take over the world. Now….he’s the elder. He has a legitimate claim to the throne….perhaps even a more legitimate claim than Randor. His madness is what now makes him unfit to rule, but before losing his face and submitting to Hordak’s magic and apprenticeship?

This is a whole new dynamic. It took the MYP series to make this into a generational story. DC has taken it and turned it into a generational drama. I love this. I haven’t been this excited about MOTU in a very long time and it’s just great.

That wraps up this week. Christmas is coming. I hope you all survive it…I’m going to go look for He-Man shaped presents under the tree.


Days of the Dead


What a drive. I find myself wishing this con was closer to home because that drive was pretty brutal.
The length was comparable to the drive to Indianapolis, but the trip to  Days of the Dead Chicago  is harder and spends more time on toll roads and urban environments.

What first struck me was how many people were there. I had to wait in a surprisingly long line for tickets. I say surprisingly long, because I got there at noon, and the doors had opened an hour earlier. I could have bypassed the line and saved five dollars by pre-registering, but honestly, the only con I pre-register for is Cinema Wasteland because I save about 15-20 dollars and I usually spend the whole weekend there. This was a day trip.  Oh well.

I got in and immediately searched out Keith David. He was one of the main reasons I was at this con, I wanted to get my Thing poster signed.

His handler was AWFUL. The guy interrupted with prices for different things, and answered questions for Keith and was generally intrusive, like a self-important pimp. A good handler takes money and snaps photos and is generally invisible. They are there to make sure no one takes advantage of the celebrity and more importantly to take care of the mundane business  so the celeb can focus entirely on the fan (and vice versa). A pity, because I suspect that Mr. David is a far nicer person without the yo-yo hovering around his booth.  This and hitting my pet peeve of charging for photo ops set a decidedly negative tone for this con immediately.

I sipped out of the vendor hall to hit the Collection panel. I had misunderstood about this though and thought it was a screening of the film. It wasn’t, although they did show both the first seven(?) minuets of the film, then talked at length about bot hit and the film that preceded it.

Let me just have a quick aside on this by the way. The guys making this movie did a remarkably smart thing as far as promotion goes. It should be so blindingly obvious that I can’t believe more people don’t do this, but whatever.They came to the con, the director and writer, brought a couple of the actors with them, showed bits of the film, then set up a table and signed posters for free. At a con where every one charges to autograph stuff, and some people even charge for photo ops, these guys not only gave away posters of their new movie, but all signed them and took photos with people for free.  Let me tell you something, their strategy worked.  This movie wasn’t even on my radar. Now, not only do I know about it, I can’t wait to see it. They only had their table set up for about three hours, and that was enough.

I had brought a small poster with me, because space is becoming an issue at my house. Besides, I didn’t want to be greedy, they could save those beautiful 11x17s for someone else. They were signing posters in an assembly line style and my smaller one got moved right along into the assembly line. At the end of the table, the director handed me my smaller poster and told me “Take one of the big ones too!” I was about to protest, but he kept on “Go on! If you can’t think of anything else to do with it, tape it to the roof of your car!” You know what? I love these guys. If you wanted to pinpoint a moment when my day turned around, this was it.

I dove back into the guest hall and as I passed by his table I realized I had completely forgotten that William Katt was going to be there. How did I forget this? Seeing him added to the line up after Keith David was what tipped the scales on me deciding to go! Maybe it was ll the planning or the glut of cons in the last couple of months. I don’t know.

I’ve heard things about William Katt. None of it good. I’ve heard that he charges more than other people, he tacks on fees for photo ops, I heard that he’s unfriendly or distant. I’ve probably heard more negative comments about him than I have about Tom Savini. I’m going to tell you right here and now, NONE of that was true.

He charged about average. Less than what a lot of people were. No extra fee for a photo. He was friendly and engaging. He really seemed to WANT to be there and connect with fans. He leaned across the table and grabbed my jacket, spreading it out to get a better look at my Punisher shirt then told me how much he loved it. He was shocked to discover I made it myself. We discussed the Star Wars auditions, something he seemed surprised I was aware of. I’m not sure I agree with his statement that it would have changed his life…Mark Hamil’s career didn’t fare too much better than Katts, but I would have loved to have seen him in the role. He mentioned that the Star Wars auditions were what got him his role in Carrie. He also asked what  i did for a living and when I told him I was in IT he told me how much he wished I lived out near him, he’d be calling me every day! Meeting him was absolutely the high point of my day.

Off in a small room to the side of the check in counter was a darling display called “Evil Puppets”. It was tucked away so neatly I walked right past it twice before noticing it. I tentatively creeped in and wondered if they would be mad at me talking a photo. There were no signs saying I couldn’t so I snapped a few photos. I really love getting my picture taken with celebrities and this presented a unique opportunity of getting a photo op with some famous monsters without having to put up with a rude handler like the guy that was hovering over Keith David. So I grabbed a random passerby and asked if he would mind taking a couple of shots of me. I knelt down to get into a better lever in front of the Gremlins. The guy tried to focus, then stepped back a moment. I felt something brush across my shoulder. I figured, I just had leaned back too far. Probably brushed against a puppet. Then it happened again. Then something was in my hair. I turned around to find the girl who was hosting the exhibit laughing and holding the gremlin’s hand in hers. She had been poking me with it and messng with me She continued to do so as the picture was taken> You can see me trying very hard not to burst in to laughter myself.

I grabbed one more autograph on my already crowded Dawn of the Dead poster from Paul Musser who asked me “When are you guys going to get a real football team up there in Cleveland?” I explained to him that was why I followed horror and not sports.

Had to hit up the Fright Night line as well. I love reunions like this where you can get five signatures on a poster in one shot like this. Chris Sarandon’s table never had a line the entire time I was there. I totally don’t get that. He actually IS someone. He’s done tons of stuff, The Princess Bride alone makes him a real star. I was also really stoked to see William Ragsdale. I spent every Sunday for three or four years watching him on Herman’s Head. His hair is shorter now, and that’s kind of a shame, but I understand and I forgive him for it. Amanda Berse was there as well and ALWAYS had a long line. Not quite sure I get that.  I realize there are a loot of people who remember her from Married with Children and if you pay attention to her career you’ll know she’s actually a talented director as well, but none of that justifies her having a bigger line than people like Keith David and Chris Sarandon. Go figure. She was hyper. Super nice but very energetic. She saw the camer and exclaimed in an almost excited voice “Come on! Let’s take a picture!” and then grabbed me and pulled me back. I don’t think I’ve ever been held that tightly by a lesbian before.

There were a couple of big surprises at this con. I saw the tail end of the “They Live” panel because I needed a break from standing in lines. It’s not one of my favorite Carpenter films but I figured there would be some “Thing” talk as well. Roddy Piper was hilarious. I had no idea he was so funny and clever. Not at all what I expected. The screening of “The Collective” was a lot of fun as well, 10 short films by 10 different directors. I have to give Days of the Dead props for decent programming. Not as much as Cinema Wasteland, but good for them for doing any at all, and quality stuff as well. The other big surprise was all the cosplay. Not just the quantity (although that WAS impressive.  Tons of people in costume) but the quality. Really great costumes and fun ideas. My favorite was the dead Tinkerbelle, but there were a lot of monsters there whose makeups just took my breath away, the snake girl and the creeper especially.

This was a good con. It was really a good one. Again, I wish it were closer to home, because that’s it’s one big downfall. Chicago is an awfully long drive for one day, but horror cons for me tend to be one day events. IF this were in Ohio, PA or Indiana, somewhere in a three hour radius, I’d probably go every year. Chicago, I’m not sure it’s worth the drive to go back. Certainly not for a while, but maybe in a few years. I had a great time this year, and I hope it continues to grow even better. In the meantime, it’s back to Violent Blue for me.


Days of the Dead Chicago

Well, I’m heading out tomorrow to try this con out. I’m most excited about getting to meet a couple of the guys from “The Thing” and get that poster autographed up a little more.

This is absolutely MY LAST CONVENTION OF THE YEAR. I went way overboard this year and will be cutting WAY back next year probably only going to Wasteland and Monster bash (and maybe a small comicon – Madeline has been asking to go). So come on out and if you see me in the crowd, tap me on the shoulder and say hi!

Don’t worry though, Violent Blue will update as normal on Monday!


Akron Comicon

The Akron Comicon was a pleasant surprise. I really wasn’t sure what to expect as I drove the hour long trip to Akron. I checked the website earlier in the day and was disappointed to see P.Craig Russel had canceled, but otherwise everyone seemed to be scheduled to still show up. So I took the day off from Violent Blue,   donned my Shadow costume and off I went.

I had a hard time find the parking the FB page recommended, but was just as happy to park on a side street and walk the block to the show. My cloak flowed in the wind and that always puts me in a good mood.

It was a smaller space than I expected, but it was used with extreme efficiency. Almost immediately I was approached by a fellow who asked If I’d like to do an interview about my favorite comics and why I was at the con today. It pays to wear a costume! I don’t usually cosplay at horror cons because I want to look normal for photo ops, but comic cons are different.

I got in a surprisingly short line for Gerry Conway, the man who created the Punisher and wrote the death of Gwen Stacy in the Spider-Man comic series.  After taking their pictures with me, the guys in line behind me and I started to chat a bit. They showed me some beautiful reprints they were getting signed. Then on of them pulled out his copy of Spidy 120 – the issue before Gwen dies. I smiled and pulled out 121, and they nearly plotzed. IT was a good feeling. I related the story behind how I got that and the Punisher origin story (you can find it back here : https://argocitycomics.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/new-old-comics/ ) and they speculated on what these might be worth in the condition they are in. I was told I had at least a couple of hundred dollars in my backpack, but I wasn’t sure. These werent in great condition. They also pointed out that autographs don;t always increase value. That was something new to me, but in the end,  I really wanted Gerry to sign them.

When I got to the front of the line I flopped them down on the table and re told the story to Gerry who handled then with a remarkably gentle touch. He seemed to revere them almost as much as the fans behind me, advising me “You have some really expensive comics here.” He then mentioned with a smile, “these are worth more money than I was paid to write them!”

I popped over to a couple of other tables, and got to see Mike W. Barr who wrote my favorite series of Star Trek for DC. I’m not so much a TOS person or a TNG person as I am a DC comics-movie timeline person. That’s real Star Trek for me. He was also kind enough to sign my copy of Batman and the Outsiders #1 for me and chat a bit about Jim Aparo. Jim defines the look of Batman for me and I always remember Denny O’ Niel saying how brilliant he was.  Mike agreed with these statements and related a story to me about the one and only time he heard Jim complain; “It was a crossover with the Teen Titians and there were some supervillians on the cover too. He finished it and then looked at me and asked ‘They aren’t ALL going to be like this one are they?'”

It seemed like I was getting through all the lines really quickly….untill I hit Norm Breyfogels line. Now I understand he IS a bigger name, but honestly, Gerry Conways line wasn’t this long! Of course people weren’t asking him to sign entire runs of his work either. I know the sign says “No Limit” but seriously? Dropping a stack of fifty or a hundred comics to be autographed is just the lamest of fanboy behavior. Yes dude. I’m calling you out. You ARE the bad guy here and Norm was a saint to put up with you.

I attended a few of the panels, These could have been better, but were perfectly fine for a first year con. There was a fun moment during one panel on how comics are made. The presenter was using an slide show that he had already prepared for other seminars and it began with the question and definition of “What are Comics?”

“I think if youre here at this show, everyone probably already knows the answer to this one.” He topped for a moment. “Well, maybe not the guy dressed as the Shadow, but the rest of you I’m sure…” I had no comeback ready for this, but someone else did. From the audience I head a voice shout out “oh, the Shadow KNOWS!”

Lots of fun cosplayers, and a LOT of Doctor Who, including the cutest little Doctor costume I’ve ever seen on a baby. Not as many sales as I would have like to have seen though and very little in the way of film, bootlegs or rare. I would have expected at least something like the corman FF or the JLA pilot, or even Mockingbird lane. Oh well, perhaps next year.

And from what I heard, the con was successful enough to guarantee there WILL be a next year, and it totally deserves it. I’ll expect more next year, but for now, I had a blast at this years show!


The future of Comic Book movies

So blockbuster season is firmly in  the past. I saw what I was going to see, and successfully avoided Dark Knight (not a nolan fan, I’ll get around to it on DVD). and I’m wondering how much longer this can last.

Don’t get me wrong. Comic Book films aren’t going away. They never have. There have been comic book films pretty much as long as there has been cinema. I have old Captain America serials and Superman movies from the 40 and 50s. I think there were a grand total of five Shadow movies. But as you look over history, you can see certian…eras. Especially in the last few decades. Usually it’s started off by a Superhero film that redefines the genre. Superman did it, and that was really the model for a good chunk of the 80s, until Batman in 1989. That redefined things as gritty, dark and rubber suits if you were going to go with a costume like in Captain America – but you weren’t allowed to show the suits too much. No costume? You just went dark and grindhousey like in the Punisher. Oh and the supporting cast didn’t really have to resemble their comic book counterparts. You can toss Judge Dredd, The Crow, Spawn and Blade in there, probably even X-Men though around that time things began to change. Specifically, Spider-Man changed all of that. Now we were looking more at making the costume as closely resemble the source material as possible, like Cap and the Avengers and Thor and Green Lantern and Hellboy ect….and it also defined the Superhero movie as THE blockbuster event of the summer.

And that’s where we’ve been for a while. In fact, we’ve kind of gone from a comic book movie being an event because it’s so rare, to any other kind of blockbuster being an event because it’s so rare. Remember Independence Day? Mission Impossible (two was my favorite)? Godzilla? How about the original Total Recal or Terminator 2? Demolition Man? We don’t see these movies so much now because the Superhero movie has taken their place. Indeed, one of the reasons The Expendables has been such a big deal is because the 80’s action movie has become nearly extinct.

Which brings me to my point. How long can this last? We’ve been on the superhero blockbuster ride for a decade now and what really has me thinking about this is The Avengers. It seems to me that with the Avengers, the comic book blockbuster has reached critical mass. It’s a brilliant achievement in of itself, and really the epitome of everything Avi Avrad was trying to do when he set Marvel down  the path to making movies (his belief was that film was where Marvel would make it’s money and was the future of the company) in the 90’s.

But where do we go from here? Already the landscape is changing again. The Dark Knight seems to be the new template, judging by the look of The Amazing Spider-Man and Man of Steel. If Superhero film is moving in that direction, then the Avengers is already falling behind. And as DC moves forward to try and duplicate the success from the Avengers, the glut of Superhero movies on the market is only going to get worse, making market fatigue inevitable…and quickining it’s progress.

That’s really my fear. That it becomes so common place it breeds contempt. Without some new innovation, a REAL game changer (not just an tonal change like we got from the Dark Knight) that Hollywood will ride this train into the ground, until Superhero movies become box office poison. 

And here’s the really scary thought to me both as a comic fan and as a comic artist on Violent Blue

Because comics these days are so heavily tied to the movie properties to support them, when the Comic Book movie goes back underground or vanishes completely for a while (like it did in the seventies)…what happens to comic books?


Turn off the Dark

This should be awful.

Seriously. This is a terrible idea and the people who gave  the go ahead should really consider another line of work.

So why can’t I stop watching it?

I got the DVD at Monster Bash. It’s not great, certainly no pro-shot, but it’s watchable….given that may alternative is sitting and listening to the OST with my eyes closed.

We all heard the stories about the nightmare production – actors in  the hospital, budget overruns, script problems. The subject matter itself really isn’t suitable for stage. Mind you, it’s not the WORST idea for a musical…you need only go back to our post months ago on Carrie : the Musical to see that. ( https://argocitycomics.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/carrie-the-musical/ ) And it feels the need to rehash that origin story AGAIN. This is the reason I skip the first fifty minuets of Raimi’s first movie every time I watch it. Still, they manage to do something interesting with it. The idea of the hero persona being inspired by the myth of Arachne is an interesting take. We actually get to the MJ romance quicker and I honestly LIKE MJ in this. It’s a better actress and somehow she just feels more sympathetic.

Interestingly, we never get resolution from Uncle Ben’s death.

There’s a heavy film influence here. The costume is obviously based on the movies -and it’s certainly better than that crap Andrew Garfield is wearing. They add the romance angle from Doc Ock and his wife and transfer it into the Norman Osborn character. It’s MJ he drops off the bridge again instead of Gwen -I’m more willing to forgive that with a smaller scale like this though.

You know what? I think “Rise above” may be even more inspiring than “With great power comes great responsibility”.

It’s not U2. If you remember that, you’ll be fine with the music. It’s not u2. It’s showtunes that aren’t bogged down with the baggage of showtune tradition. It’s better than other novelty musicals like Evil Dead or Spamalot.

In the end though, that’s exactly what it is. It’s a novelty. It’s really more circus than theatre. It’s cool to finally see Carnage in a live action appearance (unless you count the Sega Genesis commercials back in the 90’s) and the cutscenes on the big screens of the villains and the backstory really works. It’s fun. The music is catchy enough for me to listen too at work. This production should be terrible….

But it’s not. I want to hate on it, but I just can’t. I’m not sure it’s worth the price of a broadway musical, but it’s definitely worth seeing.  Hit up Youtube for clips and grab a bootleg if you can find one. (While you at it, check out this week’s Violent Blue!)

 


Hauntville!

We’re starting a new column this week, hopefully this will be a bi-weekly thing. Before I started on Violent Blue, I made films. This column is a fun little place where I’m going to show off videos that I’ve either done or appeared in.

I spent half the Halloween season working at the Elyria Haunted House “Hauntville”.  They recently got profiled on the news and much to my surprise, not only am I in the video…I’m the thumbnail! check it out!

http://youtu.be/15uXSmmGwoA


Where we’ve come from

I was working on a couple of arc strips for Violent Blue last night and considering how far we’ve come, and what doing that strip has ment to me.

I’m working on the website for my company now. That’s something doing Violent Blue helped make possible. When launching the series, Comic Fury provided me with a nice template, but over the years I’ve added and subtracted to it, created links and buttons and images for it, and had to familiarize myself with coding a bit.

I also started blogging again. My last blog was a failure – mostly because I just never had the initiative to keep at it. This one has been a lot more enjoyable. initially begun to help with google searches and get Violent Blue a bigger audience, it’s turned into something I like. Something connected to my comic, but still a separate entity. I think that happens a lot, I kind of see it over at Ctrl-Alt-Del and Penny Arcade.

Because I was already doing Argo City Comics, when our advertising guy suggested to my boss that we do a blog to help promote the business I jumped right up and volunteered for the job, pointing out that I was already doing this for my side projects and had experience in graphics and keywords. After doing the blog for months and pretty much making it my own (how many jobs can you say you get paid to talk on the web about how you’re doing on Lego Batman?) we had a turnover at the company and lost our web designer.  Management decided I was the logical replacement.

Violent Blue has been my outlet, my art, my release. It’s not necessarily my real world job, but it’s so cool to see how it affects that real world job.

I did an audit of my buffer. I have two story arc and about 50 strips left before the planned end of the series.

Even though there’s a project that will come after Violent Blue, I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Not sure at all.


Wonder Woman

This has been sitting on my shelf since I got it at Monster Bash in June. I probably could have located it myself with enough effort but sometimes it’s nice th just let the bootleggers do their work. They gave me a good deal on it too, and bundled it with the Spider-Man musical.

I’ve heard a couple of people tak about how much they wish this series would have gotten made. I certainly can see my following it for at least the frist couple of months and then checking in on it every now and then. I can see myself following it with my daughters (who really liked the scenes with Wonder Woman).

The story is okay, but not the really great kind of narrative you need for a pilot. It feels more like a mid season filler story. Definitely part of the series, but if you missed it, you wouldn’t get lost. I really like that it’s not an origin story. It starts the series with everyone and everything already established. This used to be standard (Star Trek, I’m looking at you.) and in a lot of ways works better. Too many origin stories slow things down instead of moving us into the story.

My biggest problem with this series is Adrianne Palicki herself. I’m not going to go down the tired old road of saying no one can compare to Lynda Carter. Though comparisons are unavoidable, it’s completely beside the point. Palicki ‘s greatest flaw is  that she lacks the strength and confidence to play this character. Her voice is too light…airy. When she gets quippy, it sounds like a 22 year old celebutant, not a strong amazon warrior. Watch the Justice League cartoons. The voice is just a touch deeper, but what it really resonates is gravitas. Even that 19-20 year old Lynda Carter stood and spoke with enough poise that I had no problem believing she was mature, immortal and strong. Palicki  just skews too young. She doesn’t look stable when she stands heroically and she shuffles when she walks, like she doesn’t know how to move in heels (not all women do, not all women need to. But if you’re going to play Wonder Woman, yeah, you really do). The contrast is at it’s most stark during the end confrontation with Elizabeth Hurley (possibly the best thing about this show.) who takes long confident strides and radiates feminity.

By the way, Palicki has a couple of beauty marks that drive me nuts too. One on her jaw and one in between her eyebrows. It’s completely shallow of me and I realize that they make Palicki unique and beautiful, but they don’t belong on Wonder Woman and I just can’t stop staring at them.  $1.00 worth of greaspaint could have solved that problem. Hmmm. That sounds like a good idea for a Violent Blue strip.

The costume is fine with me. It gives the necessary impression and color it needs too and by the way, if you really hate the pants, well they turn into the more familiar bikini bottoms for the final showdown. I think they might have gotten a lot less criticism for the look if they had leaked one of those pictures on the web ahead of time.  Really, the whole look for the series is slick and cool. The fight sequences are stunning. Better than anything even the animateds managed to do. The plane isn’t invisible, but looks cool enough that we forgive it. There’s a fleet of them and it works in the context.

So what’s the final verdict? It’s kind of like the current series of Doctor Who. I don’t hate Matt Smith. He is nowhere near one of my favorites, but I don’t mind him. I’ll watch the series and be happy it’s still on, even though I’d rather be watching David Tennent. That’s how I feel about this Wonder Woman. I would have watched it and been content, while wishing they’d chosen someone else for the role. I’m not happy it got passed on, but perhaps it’s for the best, especially if it results in a better product soon. I suspect it may. DC has seen the success with Marvels Avengers and they know they need to get their tails in gear. I suspect we’ll see Wonder Woman on a screen, either big or small, sooner than you may think.


Autograph requests

When people come into my library or look through my autograph scrapbooks I frequently get asked “How did you meet THEM?”. To be fair, more than half of my autographs are acquired in person at Sci-Fi or Horror conventions like Cinema Wasteland and Monster Bash. However, there’s also a great many that I have gotten through the mail. I tend to target people that I don’t think I’m going to get a chance to ever meet in real life, especially older folks who don’t like to travel any more like Angus Scrimm and John Zacherly.

A couple of years ago I helped a friend send out his first autograph request and it occurs to me that it might be nice to show you a little about how I do it.

1. I write formal letters. No first names to the recipient, ever. It’s always Mr. or Ms. It may be old fashioned, but it shows respect.

2. A little flattery. You don’t have to mean it. They can’t see your eyes to tell if your lying.

3.Talk about specifics. Don’t just repeat the list of movies they’ve been in off of IMDB.  Don’t even list all the movies they’ve done. Just talk about the ones you liked. What moved you about them and why you like them in the film. If you can’t think of anything, then perhaps you shouldn’t be asking for their autograph.

4.Include an item to be autographed. Don’t assume they have headshots laying around. Print out a picture. It’ll cost you about $4 at Target to use the automated machine. Some folks are nice and will return your autograph and  include a picture or a headshot of their own along with it. Jerry Lewis actually swapped the picture I sent with a better, glossy copy of the same image. That was especially cool since that’s not the one he normally sends out. 

While we’re on the subject, don’t be greedy. Send one picture. Maybe two. I never send more than that. I don’t resell the stuff, and the main reason I might send more than one pic is because I’m planning on getting a second autograph on that same picture and I want an extra in case it gets lost in the mail or never returned (That’s the reason I still have one Dick Van Dyke auto, even though Julie Andrews never returned the Mary Poppins pic signed by Dick that I sent her).

5. Send return postage or a SASE. Bottom line is to make this as easy as possible for the recipient. We just want them to open the envelope, sign the picture, slip it in another envelope and put it in the mailbox. Five minuets or less. If they have to put postage on it, or find an envelope, or dig out a headshot or get a headshot from thier agent, these things take time and money. Let’s not make this any more difficult than it has to be.

6.If you get a reply, send a thank-you note. I buy postcards (usually with a Cleveland theme – it helps them remember who they signed what for) and hand write thank-yous to a lot of the people  I get autographs from. I don’t bother when it’s an agent’s address or a set because it may never arrive, but when it’s a home or PO box it’s good form to say thanks and it takes less time than you spent sending the original request.  

7. Finally, don’t presume too much. Even though you’ve seen these people again and again on TV or at the movies, remember, you’re writing a letter to a stranger.  Don’t act like you know them, or assume that them sending you an autograph makes you buddies. They are doing you a favor, not starting a relationship. You won’ t be exchanging Christmas cards in December or attending their summer barbecue. Sending repeated letters is bad form and makes the rest of us look like creepy stalkers.

And again, yes, they are doing you a favor. They don’t owe you an autograph, though it shows that they do appreciate their fans. They are people  too and everyone is different. I wasn’t upset that Tom Savini was distant when I met him a few years ago. I’m not an especially friendly person myself and we were both strangers to each other. He was still polite and signed a poster and took a photo with me. I’m totally cool with that. Sometimes you will meet someone who is especially friendly, like when I wrote my friends favorite author and asked her to send him an autograph (I enclosed a picture and a stamped envelope addressed to him).  She not only sent him the autograph but also a long letter (written mostly on the back of the picture) and then also sent ME a letter. Those are great experiences and really they are the reason we do this kind of thing. But not every one will be like that. To quote Clint Eastwood “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it”.

These are by no means a definitive set of rules, but they’ve worked well for me over the years. It’s a rush when you send that envelope out and an even bigger thrill to get one back. For some reason, having an actor or director’s autograph just makes their films more fun to watch. For a moment, instead of the movie being simply a one way communication, it opens up into interactivity.  You get to talk back to the people involved in it and for that moment they know you exist too.

Good luck. I’m going to go out and check my mail before I get back to Violent Blue.


Prometheus

Image

I was a little slow getting to this one, but I did finally get to see Prometheus. I’ve heard a lot of reviews that were very disappointed in it, and I’m not that far off myself.

The biggest problems with Prometheus is it’s tie to the Alien Films. This movie could have stood on it’s own and probably would have worked better that way. There’s nothing wrong with a Sci-Fi movie asking big questions like this one does, but it’s more philosophy than we’ve come to expect from an Alien film, and make no mistake; this wants to be an Alien film. Rather, it want’s the benefits of being an Alien film. If it weren’t tied to that franchise, it would not have gotten the budget it had, nor the marketing. It wouldn’t have gotten the attention it did. It also wouldn’t have gotten the vitriol it received.

It’s almost like they couldn’t decide whether to make it a franchise entry or not. The movie tries to straddle the fence. According to Scott, though the film shares “strands of Alien’s DNA, so to speak”, and takes place in the same universe, Prometheus explores its own mythology and ideas.  But the movie I watched recreates scenes from Alien almost shot for shot and tries to shoehorn as many similarities as it can get into the film. The visual style of the first Alien film is beautifully recreated. It’s never been done this well before. I can believe that Human ship is from the same era and place. The Alien ship is instantly recognizable.

I think that’s perhaps the biggest problem. Because you go in looking at “Alien Prequel” and no amount of warning from Scott is going to deter that perception. So you want stalking and chases and familiar alien organisms. The aliens we get are far to removed from what we know…I have a hard time seeing the links between the little snakes and giant crabs with the facehuggers and alien creatures. And that would be fine if it weren’t meant to be even a quasi-prequel.

I think the movie would have been better served if the Alien connection could have been kept quiet. That means, no advertisement of this as being connected to the Alien films – not even a mention of them being in the same universe. It also means we don’t see the Alien ship or the Space Jockey helmet until the last ten minuets of the film or less and let people recognize it for themselves. It worked in Predator 2 and managed to spawn it’s own films in this manner. approaching the Alien link this way would have given the audience different expectations and time to actually absorb the message and questions it tries to raise. I’m personally going to need another viewing to really understand the movie better.

I’m not ready to throw it out of the canon yet, not the way I did with Alien 3. I expect I’ll even get a copy when it comes out on DVD. But I also know that much like the Thing prequel, when Prometheus is sitting on my shelf next to Alien and I have to decide which one I’m going to put on some rainy evening, it’s not going to be Prometheus.