Friday, October 30, 2009

Frankenstein 007: Teenage Frankenstein

When drive-in movie theaters began cropping up in the 1950s, they attracted teenagers by the hundreds. Hollywood soon realized there was a brand new demographic out there, and began making movies (usually with the word "teen" in the title) targeted specifically for the teen drive-in crowd.

In 1957 Sunset Productions released a movie titled, "I Was A Teenage Werewolf" starring Michael Landon(!). It was so successful on the drive-in circuit that just a few months later American International Pictures released "Teenage Frankenstein" to cash in on the hot new teen monster craze.

When I looked up reference photos for teenage Frank, half of them had his big monster eye on the left, half on the right. As a result I have no idea which side it was on in the actual movie. Since the stills and posters can't even agree, I decided to put his big eye on the side that worked best for my drawing.

The title is hand lettered. I'm practicing every chance I get.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the digital sketch of Teenage Frank. Originally I was going to have him holding a cigarette, but I couldn't get his hand to look right, so I changed it to a beer. Once vice is as good as another, right?

It's Log, Log, Log!

Vectren is my local power and gas monopol... er, I mean company. Last year when the local zoo opened a cool new Amazon rainforest exhibit, I took my nephew to see it. Halfway through the exhibit we saw the sign pictured above.

That's right, our multi-jillion dollar monopoly of a power company was generous enough to sponsor a fallen log for the zoo. I'm sure the zoo probably already had its quota of monkeys and jaguars and was in dire need of some fallen wood.

Stay classy, Vectren!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cloudy With A Chance Of Rockets

NASA successfully completed a test launch of their new Ares 1-X rocket today. It's supposed to be the next generation of rocket that will eventually replace the fleet of space shuttles.

The launch was finally completed after several delays that were due to... storms in the area.

This I do not understand. Unless I'm mistaken, rockets are blasted out of the atmosphere, and are designed to withstand the harsh, unforgiving environment of outer space. You know, space, the place with the extreme cold and the hard vacuum and the cosmic rays.

But a rocket can't be launched because it's raining outside?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Gronkorr Preview

Hey kids, it's Gronkorr!

This is a preview of a secret project I just started. I don't want to say any more about it yet. Have patience and all will be revealed.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Triple Header

Recently I was looking through a bunch of old Post-It Note doodles I did many years ago. I found this one, and thought I'd draw it up proper. By the way, Post-It Notes are ideal for doodling. They're just the right size and when you're done you can stick them to the wall of your cubicle.

I wanted to make sure I got the look of the squished face just right on the middle guy, so I stood in front of the mirror and mashed my face with my hands to see how it should look. I'm glad no one was around to see me.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the digital sketch. For some reason I had trouble getting the arms to look right. I went through a ton of sketches before I finally got one I could live with.

Here's the original Post-It Note sketch from 10 or 15 years ago. Same basic idea, but it looks like I went a little crazy with the man boobs. I was firmly entrenched in my cross hatching phase back then. I'm glad I got that out of my system.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


We can rebuild him. We can make him better than he was before. Better. Stronger. Fussier.

If you recognize that reference, then you're old.

Cybaby is one of those illustrations that I inexplicably thought would take no time at all, and of course it ended up taking forever. I don't know why my brain does that to me. You'd think I would be able to look at an extremely complicated and detailed sketch and realize I won't be able to draw it in half an hour, but I get surprised every time.

Based on a Post-It Note sketch I did a lonnng time ago.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the digital sketch of Cybaby I did for this drawing. I forgot to add his wispy baby hair in the final drawing.

And here's the original Post-It Note sketch I did some 10 years or more ago. Yikes! Look at that squishy, misshapen head! I like to think I've improved a little in the last 10 years.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

It Came From The Cineplex: Paranormal Activity

The new film "Paranormal Activity" is being billed as the scariest movie ever made. Does it live up to all the hype? I've created a helpful chart to help visualize just how scary it actually is:

Yes, that's right; "Paranormal Activity" is slightly less scary than a basket of kittens.

Will you be scared by it? Well, that depends. If the unbearably horrifying sight of a bedroom door slowly moving an inch or two, car keys found sitting in the center of the kitchen floor or low rumbling sounds terrifies you, then you'll fill your pants. If not, you'll likely be left scratching your head, as I was.

It's not that it's a bad movie. It's quite competently made, especially when you find out it was shot in the director's home for the astonishing price of $15,000.

It's shot in "Blair Witch Project" shaky-cam documentary style in an attempt to convince us it's a true story. In the film, we meet Micah and Katie, a normal couple living in a normal suburban house. As the movie opens, we find out that the couple has been hearing odd noises in the house at night, and Katie admits that this is not the first time she's encountered supernatural phenomena. Micah buys a video camera and proceeds to document virtually their every waking and sleeping hour in the hopes of catching the mysterious cause of the sounds on tape.

The tapes reveal a gradually escalating series of nocturnal visits, culminating in demonic possession and death.

There are some genuinely creepy moments in the film, and there's a slowly escalating air of menace, but scary? I'm afraid not (see what I did there?).

I will give Dreamworks Studios (the distributors of the film) kudos for an absolutely brilliant marketing campaign. How do you sell a modest $15,000 film in the era of $200 million dollar blockbusters? By making audiences demand to see it, that's how.

The film originally opened in just a handful of select cities, and the original trailer featured mostly scenes of audience's terrified reactions as the announcer ominously informed us they were watching the scariest movie ever made.

Then the studio turned to the internet and announced that the film would likely not play nationwide, unless you went online and filled out a petition demanding that your local theater play it.

It's classic textbook marketing: Tell the audience how awesome something is, and then tell them they can't have it. That's how you create desire.

And wouldn't you know it, they got just enough names on their petition to convince the studio to release the movie nationwide, and just a couple of weeks before Halloween, to boot. Whew, lucky us! I absolutely guarantee you they planned on releasing it everywhere all along.

As to whether you should see it or not, I say don't bother. It's competently made, but it is far from being the scariest movie ever. Skip it and wait for the DVD. I give it a C.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Frankenstein 006: Skinnystein

Part of my 100 Frankensteins Project.

I thought I'd try a little experiment and only use two colors.

One thing I've noticed about the Universal Monsters is that they were all snappy dressers. Frankenstein is the only monster I can think of who wore a suit jacket. Dracula always wore a tuxedo and cape. The Phantom of the Opera wore a tuxedo as well. The Invisible Man wore a suave smoking jacket, complete with ascot. Even the Wolfman wore a dress shirt and slacks. Sure, they were all rampaging kill machines, but they'd murder you in style.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original digital sketch of Skinny Frank. Mostly the same, except I lengthened his arms a bit to even out his proportions.

Friday, October 16, 2009

That's One Tough Bedbug...

Supposedly the bedbug population is on the rise in the U.S. That's nasty. As if there isn't already enough to worry about, now we have to add blood-sucking bugs in our beds to the list.

Doesn't it seem like pretty much everything on this planet is trying to kill us? Animals, plants, even the stinkin' weather. Someone's trying to tell us something.

His beard stubble gave me a lot of trouble. When I first sketched him out, he had stubble consisting of spines very much like those on his back. However, sometimes what works fine in a rough sketch doesn't work in the final drawing. The spiny beard just cluttered things too much, IMO, so I scrapped that plan and tried a different approach. You can decide for yourself which version looks best.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original sketch with the troublesome beard.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Nothing much to say about Brooot, other than I like the way his upper and lower lips fit together.

If you click to zoom in, you'll see I was playing around with halftone patterns. Why? Because I can.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original sketch of Brooot. Nothing much changed in the final drawing, it's virtually identical. It's odd when I see these scans of my sketches; they look like they were drawn in pencil, but I swear every sketch you see on this blog was done with a ballpoint pen. Weird.

Bertha Zaftigmeyer

Looks like Mr. Zaftigmeyer's staying out late again, and the Missus is waiting up for him. Cause that's what wives do, am I right guys? Guys? Hello? Is this thing on?

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original sketch of Bertha. The giant rolling pin was obviously an afterthought. I thought she was a bit dull just standing there, and needed something to provide some more interest.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Nightmare On Fluffy Bunny Street

This is Freddy's deep, dark secret: what he dreams about after a hard night's work murdering teens in their nightmares.

I'm starting to think this drawing is cursed. I finished drawing Freddy and right as I started on his pillow, Photoshop crashed. When I started it back up, the file was apparently corrupted and wouldn't open anymore. Ha ha, computer! Sometimes you are hiLARious! So I got to start all over. It was frustrating, but I think the second try turned out better. Originally I drew Freddy with both hands behind his head, so you couldn't see his iconic glove. I fixed that in the second version.

I apologize for the lame title. I guess I used up all my creativity on the drawing and didn't have any left to come up with a good one. It'll have to suffice until I can think of a better one.

I always thought it was a bit odd that back in the 1980s Freddy Krueger became such a beloved pop culture icon. There was quite a bit of Freddy merchadise too, and all of it was aimed at kids. There were Freddy dolls, costumes and even posters. To me it just seemed wrong for kids to have a poster of a leering, horribly scarred, serial killing child molester hanging on their bedroom walls.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original digital sketch of Freddy. That's all there is, the dream cloud and the bunnies were added sort of on the fly.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Rare And Deadly Vampire Walrus

Scientific Name: Odobenus Rosmarus Nosferatus.

The Vampire Walrus is indigenous to the Arctic circle. It preys mostly on unsuspecting Eskimos, who have few defenses against them, given the lack of naturally growing garlic and Christian crosses.

The Vampire Walrus' wings are mostly for show, as they are far too small to lift its impressive bulk off the ground.

I'm not too proud to admit I had to google photos of a walrus to draw this. You think you know what a walrus looks like, but then you start drawing one and suddenly you realize you have no idea what the nose looks like, or if they have ears, or do they have a tail or flippers. I do know that they don't really have bat wings.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original digital sketch. It's mostly the same, except in the final drawing I made the lower half larger and rounder.

Flame Retarded

OK, I know it's not politically correct, but I don't care. I thought it was kind of funny. So sue me.*

Taken at a Flea Market in Louisville a couple of months ago. Can anyone out there I.D. what character this is supposed to be? At first I thought it was teenage Pebbles from the "Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm" show, but the more I look at it I don't think it's her.

*please don't sue me.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Frankenstein 005: FrankenLee

Part of my 100 Frankensteins Project.

When you say the name "Frankenstein," most people no doubt think of Boris Karloff. He was the actor most identified with the role, but there've been dozens of others who've played the part over the years.

Take Christopher Lee, for instance. Yep, the guy known for playing Dracula at Hammer Studios also played the Frankenstein monster.

Best known for his pasty white skin, dead eye, pea coat and Moe Howard haircut, Lee's was an interesting look and interpretation of the Monster.

I should point out that when I was a kid, I absolutely hated this version of the Monster. Actually I hated ANY Frankenstein Monster that didn't look like the awesome Karloff version. In my narrow kid mind there was one, and only one Frankenstein Monster, and any variations might as well not even exist. Fortunately as I've gotten older I've grown to appreciate the Christopher Lee version.

By the way, Universal Studios actually copyrighted the Karloff makeup used in their Frankenstein films. That's why when you see a Frankenstein movie made by some other studio, such as Hammer, the Monster looks radically different from the Karloff version.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet. I used some splatter brushes I found on the internet for the bloody background. This was the first time I've really used any brushes like that. I'm not totally happy with the results. I quickly discovered they take practice to use properly. I may end up redoing the background.

Here's the original sketch of Mr. Lee as Frankenstein. I ended up changing the pose quite a bit in the final drawing, because I thought this one was a little too static. Also, it looks like he's conducting an orchestra.

Sal Manderbaum

Nothing much to say about Sal. Like pretty much all of my illustrations, he started out as a doodle in my sketchbook.

Originally those yellow nodules on his back were much smaller and flatter, but I made them bigger and more dimensional to add some visual interest.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original sketch of Sal. Nothing much changed in the final drawing, other than enlarging the big yellow scales on his back.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Big Budgie

Looks like we're gonna need a bigger cage...

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original sketch of the budgie. The shattered cage was an afterthought that I came up with as I was drawing him.

It Came From The Cineplex: Zombieland

I saw "Zombieland" this past weekend. The verdict? I loved it. The best time I've had at the movies in a long time. Maybe all year.

It's a worthy companion piece to one of my all-time favorite movie, "Shaun of the Dead." Part comedy, part gross-out horror, it's fast paced, surprising and demonstrates that there's still some life left in the old zombie genre after all (see what I did there?).

Woody Harrelson is absolutely perfect as Tallahassee (the characters only refer to themselves by where they hail from, as using personal names leads to heartache in a world overrun by zombies). He's hilarious as a bad-ass Southern boy who's finally found his calling in life: killing zombies.

Jesse Eisenberg also does a great job as Tallahassee's nervous and neurotic sidekick, who's managed to survive the apocalypse by adhering to a list of somewhat anal-retentive survival rules.

Emma Stone and Abagail Breslin also turn in fine performances as sisters who hook up with the guys.

This is a running zombie movie, by the way. A lot of so-called zombie purists don't like it when zombies run, and feel they should be slow and shambling as befits a dead thing. I say get over it. Fast, slow, they're all zombies in the end.

Amazingly the movie was reportedly shot for only $25 million, but looks like it cost three times more. That's shocklingly cheap these days, when even romantic comedies cost $50 million plus. It was filmed on location in Georgia rather than Hollywood, so that might explain how they got so much bang for their buck. I bet at least 75% of the movies I've seen this year were filmed outside of Hollywood. If they don't watch out they're going to price themselves right out of business.

There's also a celebrity cameo in the middle of the movie. I can't say any more without spoiling the surprise, so let's just say it was unexpected. And maybe a little too meta.

Highly recommended. I give it an A.

OK, this is one of my earliest reviews, written way back before I knew what I was doing and had found my voice. Obviously Zombieland doesn't warrant a full-blown A— obviously my bright-eyed, overenthusiastic naivete got the better of me. It's a B+ or even a B at best.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


It's everyone's favorite smoke monster-guarded, polar bear inhabited, time-traveling island resident!

Mr. Reyes gave me a lot of trouble as I was drawing him. I wanted him to have an animated look, and I could draw his body just fine, but when it came to his face, I just couldn't get it to look right. If I made it too cartoony, then it didn't look like him, and if I made it look more like him, then he didn't look cartoony enough. I went through a ton of revisions before I found the right balance.

The secret was to shrink his face inside his head, so that his features were smaller than they should be. Once I did that it seemed to click.

Originally the color scheme was much more garish, but I didn't think it was working. So I desaturated it quite a bit and that seemed to help.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

By the way, Jorge Garcia has a blog too. It's a fun read. He seems like a nice guy.

Here's the original sketch of Hurley. Like I said, I was having trouble nailing the face. The eyes and mouth aren't bad on this one, but that nose is way off. The shape of his head isn't right either.

Here's another attempt. Getting closer, but there's still something off.

And lastly the final sketch. I finally figured out how to draw the shape of his head, and the face is pretty close and it's cartoony. Moral of the story: don't fall in love with your first attempt.

UPDATE!: I just looked at this drawing again and noticed that I messed up "the numbers." I had the last two in the sequence wrong for some reason. Either no eagle-eyed LOST fans noticed, or everyone was too polite to point out my stupidity. I fixed them, so they're right now.
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