Monday, July 21, 2014

Creepy's Loathsome Lore - "Werewolves"

Creepy's Loathsome Lore was a short segment printed on the inside cover of early issues of Warren's Creepy Magazine that typically focused on history and traditions surrounding various mythological creatures and macabre practices.  This piece was illustrated by the great Frank Frazetta!

More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

The second book in the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series was the appropriately titled "More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark".  Once more, writer Alvin Schwartz and illustrator Stephen Gammell joined forces to scare the ever living daylights out of young children everywhere.  

This entry in the series is in the forefront of my memory for some reason.  I'm not sure that the stories were any more frightening than those found in the previous collection.  However, there were a few that struck a chord with me and lingered in my mind as I struggled to find sleep with the covers pulled over my head.   Particularly memorable tales from this collection include "The Window", "The Voice", and "Sounds" - all of which were stories that involved characters laying in bed or attempting to sleep as terror strikes!  

As always, Gammell's artwork left the biggest impression.  In my opinion, this collection is the best of his work for the whole series with his trademark monochromatic drawings seeming to be more polished and deliberate in this collection. 

While many of the illustrations in the first book were literal translations of Schwartz's descriptions found in the text, this time around Gammell seems to make a more abstract effort on several of the stories.  The illustration for "Oh Susannah!" is a perfect example as the fever dream of an image presented by Gammell appears to have nothing to do with text.  As a child, I was convinced that the publisher had made some mistake!  The incongruity makes the story all the more upsetting.  Looking back now, I have to wonder if that was the point!

Sweet dreams!!!

Dead Man's Bones

I was recently introduced to the wonderful music of Dead Man's Bones.

This two-piece group consists of Zach Shields and Ryan Gosling (yes, that Ryan Gosling - although in the band, he goes by the stage name "Baby Goose").  The two found common ground in their fascination with ghosts and decided to write and record love songs about supernatural entities.

In addition to the unusual subject material, the band decided upon a number of unorthodox conditions that would guide and foster their unique sound:  Shields and Gosling would play all of the instruments regardless of their expertise (some instruments they had never even touched prior to their performance on the album), they would do no more than two or three takes during the recording process, and they would include a children's choir for backing vocals.  The result is an spooky and atmospheric (yet catchy!) collection of music.

The Thing in the Swamp

No, not Swamp Thing...  This guy picked the wrong swamp to crash into!  (Is there a right swamp to crash into?)

Artwork by Sergey Kolesov.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Save "Making Monsters"!!!

I don't watch a lot of cable TV.  Unfortunately there's just not that many shows that appeal to me nowadays.  However, one show that I will definitely drop everything to watch is Travel Channel's "Making Monsters"!  Typically aired around Halloween, this show documents the work of Distortions Unlimited, a company that specializes in creating...  Monsters!

Based in Greeley, Colorado, Distortions Unlimited was founded by Ed and Marsha Edmunds who started the company back in the 70's creating superbly-detailed Halloween masks that are sought-after collector's items to this day. The company has since expanded into creating animatronic life-sized and larger-than-life-sized props for haunted house-themed attractions.  The company employs a small army of artists and skilled technicians who are all genuine people with great personalities and a penchant for puns, pranks, and no small measure macabre humor (what else would you expect?).

One of the designers and most interesting characters on the show is designer and sculptor Jordu Schell who has worked on numerous film productions including Predator 2, Hellboy, The Mist, and Cloverfield.
Some of the more ambitious projects featured on "Making Monsters" include producing enough zombie masks for a high school marching band, a gigantic static zombie podium for Adobe, a stage prop for Alice Cooper, and a 25 foot skeleton for a haunted forest attraction.

The bulk of the action centers around the challenges presented by this most unique vocation  (Will the forklift be able to lift the mold for the giant demon skull without breaking it?  Will the mutant boars ship on time to meet the deadline?).  Being an amateur prop builder myself (emphasis on the "amateur"), it's a great treat to witness the artistry and ingenuity that go on behind the scenes of an industry such as this.  If you're a fan of special effects featurettes, Halloween, or monsters in general this is a show that would more than likely pique your interest!

Unfortunately, Travel Channel decided after three seasons to discontinue production of the show.  But, hopefully, this is not the end!  A number of petitions have been started to save the show, whether it be by resuming its place on the Travel Channel or by being resurrected on the Sci-Fi Channel (I know, that's not the way they spell it anymore, but I detest the new spelling) which has had some success producing shows such as this.

Whether you are a fan of the show or just interested in lending some support, you can sign the petition on

Thursday, July 17, 2014

"The Quick Trip" and "The Long Trip" - EC Comics

"The Quick Trip" and its companion tale "The Long Trip" were published back-to-back in 1952 in EC's Weird Fantasy #15.  Both stories were illustrated by Al Williamson.