Friday, December 23, 2011

Crazy Christmas Cavalcade: Holiday Spirit 2011

Hey everybody it's the eve of Christmas Eve, and it's time for my last holiday animation of 2011.

Please gather the entire family around the computer (or smart phone or tablet) to enjoy the short animated musical Christmas adventure of Jingles the bell ringing elf, and the holiday spirit that possesses him...

If this animation seems familiar it's because it is.  It's a "special edition" of  animation I made back in 2007.  Hey if George Lucas can do it so can I.

Anyway I think I've made some improvements.  The little red elf was originally intended to be in the animation, but was cut due to time constraints. I have a better grasp of particle systems so I think the avalanche looks more dynamic.  At the very least the picture quality is certainly much better.  Yes the Internets have improved over the last 5 years.  Here's how it looked back in 2007 for those of you who didn't click the link...

Merry Christmas everybody!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Crazy Christmas Cavalcade: Santa's Shaver Sleigh

Time for another festive holiday animation.  This time I take a child-like look at a classic Christmas commercial...

Norelco has been doing these Santa riding a razor spots for decades. Here's the earliest looking one I could find on the ol' YouTube...

... and here's the most recent with Santa now riding a newfangled flying razor!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Crazy Christmas Cavalcade: Christmas on Easter Island

Here's another new animation for the holidays.

It's a new animation based on an old Christmas card I made years ago...

If you're an avid reader of this blog maybe you remember this card from a post way back on December 7, 2007.

Hmm, I think I like the way I originally drew that Santa hat better than what I've drawn in the new animation.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Crazy Christmas Cavalcade: Ice Skating Wonderland

Seasons greetings all ye merry gentlemen, and gentleladies! I bring you tidings of great joy.  I'm creating a series of short heartwarming Christmas specials that are destined to become holiday classics, or quick cheap jokes that are sure to be forgotten immediately after viewing.

Either way please enjoy my video creation that's the virtual embodiment of the yuletide spirit...

I don't know how many of these things I'll make.  I have a few more ideas that I'd like to try to get to before the "fat man" slides down the chimney.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland Brochure

Well it's that time of year again, so to get in a festive mood here's a 1990's brochure for Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth, MI.

Established in 1945 I think Bronner's was probably the first store of its kind to sell Christmas decorations year around.  One thing for sure is the place is huge, and you can buy any sort of Christmas decoration imaginable. For example, maybe you where searching for those upscale mechanical animated figures, like the kind you might find in your local malls' holiday display - well you can buy them at Bronner's. 

Bronner's also wins my admiration for the most information packed into a single brochure.  I now know how to write "welcome" in 57 different languages, the miles to Bronner's from 40 North American cities, what the Bronner family looks like, and a short history Frankenmuth.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Wacky Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everybody.

To celebrate the day of the big feast here's my salute to the greatest food related comedy of all time...

Acknowledgments to Norman Saunders the master artist of the Wacky Packages. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

You're a Lousy Cook Charlie Brown

After the success of A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965), and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966) the next big Peanuts holiday special was A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973).  Well two out of three isn't bad.  Seriously, do they even still air this one?

Nevertheless it was popular enough for Scholastic to publish a cute little picture book in 1975...

The text in the book follows the television script almost verbatim. The art looks like it came directly from the TV special as well, but it has some slight differences. For example check out the side-by-side comparisons below...

... on the left side is the book and it shows Peppermint Patty's phone as white and Charlie Brown's phone as red, but in frames on the right taken from the TV special the color of the phones are reversed.

Oh wait folks, I've just received an email...  It's from the Guinness World Record people, and because of that bit about the phone colors it seems I've won "Blog with the Most Pathetic Piece of Trivial Information." Wow, I didn't even know that was a category.

Anyways in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Charlie Brown has a predicament of course, and when he's advised that he prepare a special Thanksgiving meal for his friends he says...

You're damn right Chuck.  You can't cook a Thanksgiving dinner, and you can't make a kid-friendly cookbook either...

Let's get real, the recipes in the Peanuts Lunch Bag Cook Book obviously weren't written by Charlie Brown, but they were written by someone completely out of touch with what most children want to eat.  Just take take look at this "Linus Loves Liverwurst Sandwiches"...

Who even eats liverwurst much less a kid?  Hey, I'm not just cherry picking a recipe for maximum child objectionability (well, maybe a little),  the recipe before this one is "A School of Tuna Sandwiches"  (OK it's possible a kid might eat a tuna fish sandwich, but it's that weird kid who carried his lunch in the brown-paper bag that had a giant grease stain on it), and immediately following are "Some Salmon Sandwiches" and "Lucy's Crabby Sandwiches." So here we have tuna, liverwurst, salmon and crab sandwiches - how many kids are going to go for this?  If you don't understand what I'm getting at maybe watching this recent Domino's Pizza commercial will help...

As a kid, I practically lived on peanut butter sandwiches, and so one may think when I got to "Stick-To-The-Roof-Of-Your-Mouth Peanut Butter Sandwiches" I'd finally find something I'd like to try, but no, not really...

There's nothing here that improves on a simple plain peanut butter sandwich, or a PB&J. The very fist recipe calls for finely chopped celery and catsup on a PB sandwich.  I know of the famous "Ants on a Log" kids snack so I guess that's were the chopped up celery comes from, but catsup?  Did Shaggy and Scooby come up with that?  Another Shaggy and Scooby-like PB variation was the suggestion of pickle relish.  Hmmm, peanut butter and pickle relish - these don't at all seem like two great tastes that taste great together...

Now who the hell walks down the street eating straight out of a jar of peanut butter...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Adventures Of Isabel

Back in September I was searching for something school related to post about, and so I flipped through an elementary school reading book published in 1965 by the Scott, Foresman and Company titled Ventures...

Ventures cover

 ... I didn't find much, but the illustrations for the poem Adventures Of Isabel by Ogden Nash really caught my attention.  They were so fun looking, and the subject matter was sorta scary so I thought it would make for a good Halloween post.  Well I never got around to posting this back in October, but since there's good deal of eating in this poem, and November is month for that big turkey feast, this poem is still fitting...

These great illustrations are by Rod Ruth.  I hoped to find a wealth of information about Rod at the blog Today's Inspiration.  Today's Inspiration celebrates classic illustrators of the 20th century with a comprehensive collection of their work, but there was nothing on Rod Ruth.  In fact it looks like Rod Ruth has sorta fallen through the cracks of the vast Internets.

The best source for Rod Ruth illustrations is at a blogger acquaintance of mine - The Haunted Closet.  Here you can find Ruth's expert illustrations of monsters and dinosaurs.

Well, with no biographical information available, wherever you are Mr. Ruth, I'd just like to say you're an exceptionally accomplished illustrator, and I admire your work very much.

If you'd like to hear Ogden Nash recite his poem accompanied by the illustrations of Rod Ruth, check out the little video I've made...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Commentary on The Story and Song from the Haunted Mansion Animated

Well Halloween is over, and for those interested here's a quick commentary on my animation of the classic The Story and Song from the Haunted Mansion.

Back in 2009 when I made the Unused Concept Art from the Haunted Mansion  Animated I used the record cover art by Collin Campbell for the open.  At the time I thought it would be cool if the cover art would animate, but the prep work needed to do this was a monumental chore in its self.

So I basically forgot about it for 2 years, but this summer I thought I should finally do it for this Halloween.  Early on I thought I would just animate the cover art, but I soon decided I would animate some (not all) of the "Story and Song" art.

Okay now I'll go through the animation one shot at a time...

The cover art was the biggest chore to animate (and a bigger chore to prep), and there over 30 moving characters and elements. Originally I thought I might try to make it 3D, but that was way too difficult.  The audio mix was a challenge too. I first thought I might just use the music of the band members and opera singers, but I quickly learned hearing those opera singers for any extended period of time is pretty brutal.  I decide to fade the singers out and primarily use the ballroom music which I had used back in 2009 on the concept art animations.   At the end of the open when the titles appear I brought in a little bit of the title theme from The Haunting (1963).

It's been reported that this movie was influential during the creation of Disney's Haunted Mansion.  I also used the spooky look of The Haunting's opening titles (which look very much like the effect used on the type in the above trailer), and ghostly transitions used during the first few minutes of the film where the history of Hill House is told.  If you haven't seen the movie, or don't know what I'm talking about you can check it out here if you wish.

I like animating Haunted Mansion art that hasn't been done in real life.  That's what appealed to me about animating unused concept art, and it's this philosophy that guided my choices when I animated the "Story and Song."

The first page

Like the above opening page has almost nothing to do with the Haunted Mansion attraction.  Sure there's an executioner in the ride, but he is singing in the graveyard and not opening the front door for you.  I thought I could use a 3D camera with a short depth of field to get this shot, but it was impossible to get the framing correct so I cheated the look in 2D.  It's not perfect, and it's something I wish I had more time to finesse.

Madam Leota

I know Madam Leota is in the attraction, but I animated this art because Collin Campbell staged the seance scene so differently from how it looks in the attraction.  I love how lively the room looks here.  In recent years the Disney Imagineers have gotten Madam Leota to float in the air, which is a neat trick, but I'd be truly amazed if they could make all the furniture float like it does here.

A wide shot of The Bride

The bride art is not by Collin Campbell.  It's by me.  Did I fool you?  I hoped it looked like Campbell's work, but the talent gap between me and Collin is pretty huge.

I based the look of the Bride after a couple early versions, but mostly this maquette...

I've borrowed this photo from the encyclopedic Haunted Mansion blog Long-Forgotten.   HBG2, who owns the blog, is using a Photoshoped photo of the "corpse bride" I did so I don't think he'll mind too much.  I know she doesn't look much like an actual bride, but she is a very early version of sorts.  For hardcore Mansion fans there's also a couple of "Easter Eggs" in my Bride scene, like the bust on the sideboard and the hanging portrait. 

CU of Bride art before animation

Above is a close-up of the original art.  You can see the skull face which is something that I experimented with. I though it might look cool if you saw the skull flicker as her heart beat, but I dropped that idea.  One idea I did keep was a faint flicker of the artery and veins that surround the heart, but I don't think it's very noticible in the final animation. Also starting with the Bride I tried to make my shots a little more POV (point of view).

Hatbox Ghost

Here we have the most infamous Mansion resident - the Hatbox Ghost.  The history of this character is well known by Mansion fans, and so I had to include him.  He's been long absent from the Mansion, but the hope is strong among the faithful he'll return one of these days.

Last Page

Lastly we have the escape thru the crypt ending and that crazy alien-like ghost with the yellow eyes.  This is where the POV becomes the most obvious (with mixed results).   I which I had more time to finesse this shot a little more.  I think if I made the shot 3D the POV would work better, but prepping the art for 3D would have taken time which I didn't have. 

Well that's it.  Thank you for reading this, and thanks to those of you who have left comments.  Thanks to Disney for not getting upset with these fan creations of mine.  The Story and Song from the Haunted Mansion is available on CD, so if you don't have a copy for yourself go get one now.  I think this will be my last animated trip into the world of Disney,  but rest assured I have ideas for other fun and stupid animation in the future.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Story and Song from the Haunted Mansion Animated

Happy Halloween folks!  This animation basically ate up all my free time this month, so I hope it was worth it...

Please leave a comment, and tell me what you thought.  I'll be back in a day or two with a post-mortem on this thing for those that care. 

UPDATE:  Here's that commentary I promised if you are interested.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Monster Mask Mash-Up

I'm still alive, just preparing for tomorrows "festivities."  In case you still need some ideas on what to wear for Halloween here's some monster mask ads from the 70's and 80's...

Famous Monsters 1976

Leave it to Famous Monsters to have a collection of "classic" monsters, and a nice selection of hands too.  I was curious about the adjusted for inflation price on these masks, and so I checked out the CPI Inflation Calculator. The basic cost of these masks are $40, and figures out to $159.50 in 2011 dollars!  Kids of the 70's, I guess you saved up your allowances for like 3 years if you bought of these.

With the release of Star Wars comes the Star Wars masks...

Starlog 1978

... and the Star Wars knock-off masks too.  I'm a big fan of Spacetrooper and Death Invader.

Starlog  1978

If you bought those Star Wars masks back in 1978 for $39.95 I've got some good news and bad news...

Fangoria 1981

The good news is that in this 1981 ad, Darth Vader is $49.99, and Chewbacca is $64.99.  Good move on purchasing early. Although what's with that price jump?  Did the cost of fake hair go through the roof in 3 years?  Sorry if you bought C-3PO back in 1978, you could have saved five bucks if you simply waited a few years.

Here's some interesting and original masks from Death Studios who are still in business...

Fangoria 1981

I think like the Astroroth the best.  The Hell Spawn's "bony finger-like" mouth is a unique design.

Next is a Count Fangor mask.  Count Fangor was a comic that ran in the pages of Fangoria for a short while.  I don't think he ever caught on, but I guess he was popular enough for his own mask.

Fangoria 1980

Finally here's an ad for the famous (well sorta famous) Halloween III (1982) masks...

Fangoria 1983

These masks are supposedly fetching big prices from collectors today.  I'm actually surprised that original "Silver Shamrock" versions even exist.  Every rubber mask I had when I was a kid started to rot within about 5 years.   If any mask collectors reading this who would like to leave a comment on how you preserve your old  masks I'd be interested to hear about it.

This ad also gives me a reason to post this clip...

Hmm, maybe I should have made this post 7 days ago.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Second Scariest Film Clip in the World

Here's a follow up to the post I made last October.  This is another one of those real life Bigfoot reenactments that left a big impression on me when I was a kid...

Here's a very accurate quote left by joeyvader on YouTube...
 It says it took them a couple of hours to get back to sleep...I think it would have taken me more like a couple years to get back to sleep...
Exactly.  Who could ever go back to sleep after an experience like that?  I was a kid living in the suburbs, and I had a hard time sleeping after watching this.  I don't know what I would have done if I was supposed to go camping a day or two after seeing this.    

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Yes, Virginia, there is a Goblin Shark

"My mommy always said there were no monsters - no real ones - but there are."
- Newt  Aliens (1986)
This thing has been kicking around the 'nets' for a while now, but in case you've missed it let me introduce you to the Goblin Shark.  It's a real life creature that seems to have a little bit of Alien DNA...

Friday, October 7, 2011

Cheap Costume Ideas from 1976

Here's some cheap (and I do mean cheap) Halloween costume (well more like makeup) ideas from Dynamite #20 from 1976.  If you were a elementary school kid in the 70's or 80's I'm sure you remember this magazine. 

If I was the kid who had to wear the macaroni and Honeycomb cereal glued to my face I'd be pissed (actually he doesn't look too happy).  Maybe these ideas would work as a rainy day fun activity, but it would be very embarrassing to try one as a serious Halloween costume.

Also if you read the article they call for "surgical glue" to glue all the stuff onto the kids faces.  First I don't know where you would buy surgical glue (the article says the drugstore, but really?), and secondly that sounds like a horrible idea.  From what I know surgical glue is very similar to super glue, and super glue isn't an acceptable makeup adhesive.  Spirit gum has been used for decades in theater and film to glue things like fake mustaches and beards on actors, and this seems like a much safer adhesive to use for your space alien makeup.

Ultimately let's face the cold hard truth people. These makeups are simply not very good.  Now some might say, "Oh but it's fun for kids!" and "This was good for the 1970's."  I say no. No it's not.  I've seen much better makeups for kids in books from the 70's (maybe I'll do a post on them).  Kids would much prefer to learn makeup techniques that look like they come from film or TV.  Even if it's something extremely challenging for children to accomplish it would have been better to try something more advanced than this lame "face odyssey."   

Monday, October 3, 2011

Alfred Hitchcock's Ghost Stories for Young People

Here's the cool cover art for the Alfred Hitchcock's Ghost Stories for Young People vinyl LP...

OK I know, that's an easy one to find online, but how about the back...

That's not so easy to find.  Now future internet generations (or as long as this blog exists) can see the B&W illustration of a child terrified by a huge ethereal letter from Alfred Hitchcock.
If you would like to listen to this recording you can thank YouTuber, VintageHorrorSounds,  for uploading the entire album...

Also the album is available on CD or download at Amazon.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Trick or Treat or Tease

It's October, and that means it's time for a month long celebration of Halloween stuff.

If you know this blog, you know not to expect a new post every day or anything extreme like that. I'll certainly be more active this month than in the past, and I'm hoping to have a few posts each week.

The finale for the this month will be a new Halloween animation. I don't want to state explicitly what I'm doing, but if you remember those Disney Haunted Mansion concept art animations I did in 2009, I made a little comment in a post that might give you an idea of what I'm doing. You can hunt for that post if you like a challenge, or simply look at the picture above.

So when finished will this animation be a trick or a treat?  Heck I don't even know yet, but for now you get a tease...


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It's Educational!

I wanted to do some sort of back to school themed posts for September.  So I looked at a few elementary school text books from the 1940's thru 1970's, but couldn't find anything very interesting or original.

I did think this 1955 cover for a Random House "Allabout" book was kinda fun...

It's about famous scientific expeditions, and the mysterious illustrations make it look like it could be about dinosaurs, mummy's curses, and monstrous creatures of the deep. 

Next is a 1970's brochure for the American Museum of Atomic Energy (now called the American Museum of Science and Energy.  I blame the name change on Homer Simpson.) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Hmm, I wonder if this means Dick Tracy's 2-way wrist TV was nuclear powered.

Lastly I found this book...

I'll try to get around to reading it sometime.  God knows the writing on this blog can use improvement.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tombstone Junction

I have one last western themed brochure to share, it's Tombstone Junction in Cumberland Falls, Kentucky.  This park was notable for having a full-size operating steam train that ran on a 2½ mile track.

I was a little skeptical of the "See the World's Top Country & Western Stars Perform" claim (see the yellow circle above), but after checking out the Wikipedia entry it seems this was totally true.

When other small parks fold up they usually just quietly go bankrupt, but it sounds like Tombstone Junction went out in a blaze of glory.  The place caught fire twice - once in 1989 which caused serious damage, and again sometime around 1991 which was the final coup de grĂ¢ce for the park. Then according to the wiki entry even the wooden train cars were intentionally burnt to salvage the scrap metal in 1992. Although it's reported the burning cars rolled away uncontrolled and crashed in a flaming heap.  I think I might have bought tickets to see that.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ghost Town in the Sky

Continuing with the western theme for this month here's a brochure from 1979 for Ghost Town in the Sky in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. This park has been in bankruptcy for the last few years, and if you care about such matters you can read about the whole mess here.

If you want to see what Ghost Town in the Sky looked like in 2007 (which I think was the last year the park was open) here's a link to a pictorial "TPS Report."


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