Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sammy Terry

Sometimes I feel sorry for kids today. Sure they've got phones the size of matchbooks, hyper-realistic video games and blankets with sleeves, but they're missing out on the fun of watching a good local TV horror host.

When I was a kid, a horror host named Sammy Terry was the star of Nightmare Theater on Channel 4 in Indianapolis. We lived 70 miles away from Indy and if I turned the TV antennae just so and all the atmospheric conditions were right, I could pick up a snowy image of Nightmare Theater and see Sammy every Friday night.

Each week Sammy Terry would raise the lid of his coffin, hoist himself out, utter his trademark evil laugh and introduce that week's movie. He had a rubber spider on a string named George, who served as his sidekick and spoke in high-pitched gibberish that only Sammy could understand.

Sammy would interrupt the movie periodically for some truly awful puns and one of his patented scary soliloquies. He'd drone on and on in his drawn out "spooky" voice for what seemed like half an hour, talking about all manner of macabre topics. Due to the late hour I'd sometimes doze off during one of his interludes and when I'd wake up 20 minutes later he'd still be talking!

Despite his penchant for rambling, I loved Sammy and his show and never missed it for years. Back in the pre-home video days, if you wanted to see a particular movie you just had to wait until it showed up on TV. There were no video stores and only 3 major networks. Shows like Sammy's were the only place you could see old horror and sci-fi movies. He introduced me to Frankenstein and Godzilla movies and many others, and for that I am truly grateful to him. I wouldn't be a horror fan today if not for Nightmare Theater.

Even though I loved the films he aired, I rarely managed to see the entire movie. Most of the time I'd fall asleep halfway through the show and wake up on the couch at 3 a.m. with the TV blasting away a blank screen full of snow. It just came on too late for me to make it through all the way.

Sadly, most of Sammy's shows are lost forever. A few years ago I worked with a guy who interned at Channel 4 in the 1970s, and he said back then it was common practice to videotape a show, air it, and then tape the next week's show over the previous one. Apparently videotapes were prohibitively expensive back then and in those pre-home video days no one dreamed there'd ever be a market for old TV shows. It makes my head hurt just thinking about all the hours of Sammy's show (and dozens of other samples of TV history) that are gone forever.

By the way, I watched his show for many, many years before one day I finally got his name. Sometimes I can be a little slow. Sammy's retired now, but still occasionally appears at horror conventions around the Hoosier state.

I wish there were still horror hosts on TV, but in an age in which you can own or download any movie you might ever want to see, there's probably not much point in it. Plus, most local horror shows operated on shoestring budgets. Each week Sammy would rise up out of his plywood coffin and stand in front of a cardboard set. He was literally creating something out of nothing. I'm not sure today's more sophisticated kids would stand for such nonexistent production values. Sadly, horror hosts have gone the way of buggy whips and powdered wigs.

Anyway, here's my version of Sammy Terry and his pal George the spider. I didn't notice it back when I was watching him on a snowy TV set, but in reality Sammy's yellow gloves appeared to be everyday dishwashing gloves, with what looked like "veins" drawn on with a marker (!). No idea why he'd have veins on his gloves, but whatever.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original rough sketch of Sammy & George.

And here's a tighter sketch of him.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Alien Email

Looks like Xlortho just got an email! I wonder who it could be from? One of his pod mates? His maternal birthing unit? The Galactic Senate?

Nope, it's just from a Nigerian prince.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original sketch. His static pose seemed a little dull, so I added his right arm with holographic projector.

Birthday Boy

Henry came downstairs and saw Junior sitting at the kitchen table, wearing a party hat. He sighed deeply, as he'd already done many times that week.

"OK," said Henry, "I'll bite. What's with the hat?" His son Junior ignored him and shoveled another fistful of cake into his mouth. Marion, Henry's wife, beamed proudly.

"Why, we're having a party for Little Junior," said Marion.

"Really? What's the occasion? He's eligible for Social Security?" said Henry.

"What's that supposed to mean?" said Marion. "Today is Junior's birthday, and you know it!"

"Cheezus H. Rice," said Hank. "Don't you think "Little Junior's" getting a bit big for a birthday party?"

"If my little boy wants a birthday party, then I'm going to see to it that he gets one," said Marion, her voice breaking the way it always did before one of her crying jags.

"Marion, your little boy's 36 years old! For God's sake, do they even sell that many candles?"

For the record, I'm officially done with birthdays. It just seems silly to me for adults to celebrate them. Sure, it's fun having cake, presents and a party when you're a kid, but once you get past 21, it's time to give it a rest. No adult wants to be reminded that they're one year closer to death.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the sketch for Birthday Boy. His right hand is missing because I started too close to the edge of the paper. When I was drawing him for real, I couldn't think of anything to put in his hand. I thought about a cake or some kind of party favor, but at the last minute settled on a cupcake.

Conan The Conqueror

Now THAT'S how you end a show!

Well, Conan O'Brien's last "Tonight Show" has come and gone, and I thought it was pretty amazing. The montage of clips from the past 7 months were awesome, the guests were great, and Conan's final speech almost brought a tear to my eye. And who knew he could jam on the guitar like that? He went out on a very high note, and I'm sorry to see him go so soon. He's definitely a class act.

His parting words should become our new national motto, tacked onto the end of the Pledge of Alleigence, printed on the one dollar bill, and anywhere else we can think of to place it:

"Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen."

We'll miss you, Coco!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bat Batsterson

I tend to draw a lot of big lummox type characters. I especially like the visual of a giant character supported by tiny little wings.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the digital sketch. Pretty much the same as the final drawing, other than adding his right arm and trying to make his body look heavier and more pendulous.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Brain Chigger Of Morgus Five

What's the biggest danger facing spacemen today? Exposure to cosmic radiation? Well, yes, that's certainly dangerous, but I was thinking of something else. Explosive decompression? Again, very dangerous, but I was looking for something different. An overwhelming feeling of insignificance and dread when faced with the vastness of outer space? OK, look, how about if I just tell you? It's Brain Chiggers. They perch on your head and stick their probe into your brain and force you to do their bidding. THAT'S the biggest danger to spacemen today. In fact I'm surprised there hasn't been a telethon about it yet.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original sketch of the Brain Chigger. I liked this sketch a lot, especially the victim's brain dead, slack-jawed expression. But I was afraid he looked a little too much like Biff.

I thought about it for a little while and thought why not make him a space man? So I added a space suit and gave him a raygun for the Brain Chigger to control.

I Am So Going To Hell

When I was in college, my friend's mom had this print hanging on the wall of her house. I remember I'd just stare at it every time I went there, fascinated by both the technical craftsmanship of the painting, and the all-out bat$#!+ insanity of the subject matter.

Seriously, I love this painting. How could you not? The sentiment it portrays is a nice one, but it goes about it in such a frakin' bizarre way that I can't believe it's real. It appears that Jesus is finally fed up with the petty bickering of the nations of the world, so he's grown to Megazord size and is knocking on the window of the U.N. building to let the representatives inside know that they'd better shape up... or else there's gonna be some urban renewal, pronto. It's not every day that you can find a piece of art that celebrates both religion and Godzilla movies-- all at the same time.

I christened the painting, Attack Of The 50 Foot Jesus, after the similarly titled B-movie. My friend's mom, she didn't think that was funny. At all. Boy, did she not think that was funny.

I wish I could find a print of this painting. I would snap it up in a heartbeat. I keep an eye out every time I go to a flea market, but so far, no luck. Maybe one of these days I'll score one.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Have A Slice!

"Can I tempt you with a slice? Please, I insist. What's that? You're dieting? No problem, it's low in fat! No? Perhaps later th... I'm sorry, what were we talking about? Do you smell wind chimes?"

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original sketch. I made a lot of changes in the final drawing, mostly cleaning up proportions and such.

Mick Fedora, All Night Private Eye

"I was sitting in my office, nursing my third glass of bourbon. The time was 3 a.m. Faint strains of jazz were drifting in through the open window, like a radio station that's almost out of range. It was a slow night, like it usually is. I cater to the crowd that's too guilty to get any shut-eye, or too afraid to be seen in the harsh light of day. But don't worry about me, Ma. I can take care of myself. I carry a gun. I also wear silk pajamas. I'm an All Night Private Eye."

"It was right about then that she sauntered into my office, like she was slow-dancing to a tune only she could hear. She was wearing an overcoat over her peekaboo nightie. She was the kind of dame who displays the goods in the window on Main Street, but then busts you for looking. She had legs long enough to reach the ground and then some, and a pair of cans the size of ripe durians, but not as spiky. She talked about the weather and the phase of the moon while she waited for the courage to spill her guts. I offered her a glass of mother's milk from my fifth of sauce."

"She said I had nice pajamas. I told her to tell me something I didn't know and asked her why she was really here, as the late hour and the hooch were making me sleepy. She said her husband had gone out to buy a newspaper and she was getting worried about him. I told her lots of mooks buy papers, so why the worried wife routine? She said because he went out six years ago and still hadn't returned. That sounded like a pretty good reason to me."

Back in the 1940s, men wore hats all the time. It was virtually unheard of to see a man on the street without a hat. It wouldn't surprise me if men slept in their hats. I don't know why I know that; it's just one example of the thousands of useless facts cluttering up my brain.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original sketch of Mick. I think the only thing I changed in the final drawing was the size of his hat.

Rocket Baby

My family and my art teachers must be so proud right now...

Any day I'm expecting a call from MOMA or the Louvre, asking if they can display this illustration in one of their exhibits.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original sketch of Rocket Baby. The only thing I really changed in the final drawing was the length (height?) of his, um... jet.

The New Holiday Inn Sign Makes Kittens Die

Last week I saw one of the brand new Holiday Inn signs out in the wild. Above is a side-by-side comparison of the classic sign (on the left) and the new one (on the right).

I'm speechless. These new signs depress me so much that I can't even think of anything snarky to say about them. OK, I can think of one thing: Why?

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Return Of Professor Flytrap

I'm not exactly sure where the Professor's been or from where he's returning. Actually this is the first time I've ever drawn him. The title just had a nice ring to it.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.
Here's the original sketch of the Professor. I decided I didn't like his ears up so high, so I moved them down where ears traditionally go. I haven't yet figured out if the bat wings are real or part of his outfit.

That's the way I usually work. I'll start doodling and a character will just sort of appear on the paper. I won't have any idea who they are or what they do, so I have to figure that out later. The name is usually the last thing I come up with. That's backwards, right? Don't most people figure out who a character is and what they do and then decide what they look like?

I don't do this very often, but I did it tonight-- I made a color study to try out colors and background ideas before I started in on the final coloring.

Deal Of The Decade (So Far)!

If you're a fan of the late, great Don Martin, then run, don't walk, to your nearest Barnes & Noble bookstore. They're currently selling "The Completely Mad Don Martin" book set for the ridiculously low price of $24.95. This is a set that normally retails for $150. Yes, I said $150.

If you grew up reading Mad, then you're definitely familiar with Don Martin. He's famous for his bizarre, floppy-footed characters and his inventive sound effects.

I've been a fan of his work since I was 10 or 12 years old. His art had a huge influence on me that continues to this day. There's a definite Don Martin influence in my own work, especially in the eyes of my various characters. I would be a different artist today if not for Don Martin.

True story: when I was in college I took a figure drawing class. You know, the kind with the nude model. One day the professor wanted to mix things up a bit and told us to draw the model "in the style of our favorite artist." Naturally most of the class tried their best to draw like da Vinci or Bruegel. I of course drew the model in the style of one Mr. Don Martin, complete with potato-like nose, giant feet and half-closed eyelids. Most of the class thought it was pretty funny, but the professor, she was not amused. Sadly the original drawing is long gone, lost to the mists of time, but I've tried to recreate it to the best of my memory below:
Anyway, this is a massive two volume set that includes every single comic that Don Martin did for Mad Magazine, from 1956 to 1988. The books are big, like 10" x 13". You won't be able to read these babies in the bathroom! Each page contains one magnificently reproduced full sized comic, just as it appeared in Mad. It's a beautiful set, and highly recommended, especially for this price! Hurry before they're all gone. Unless of course you're not a Don Martin fan, and in that case I say "Good day, sir. I said Good day sir!"

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Late For Work!

It's only a matter of time before I accidentally leave the house like this.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original sketch for comparison. Not a lot changed in the final drawing, other than tightening up lines and proportions.

Mystery Ad Man

OK, who is this homeless drifter, and why is he suddenly popping up on every website I see?

Obviously he's a piece of clip art, given that he's featured in three different ads as three different people. I'm curious as to who thought a photo of an unkempt sleepy-eyed Dead fan would make a good spokesperson for their business. When you pick a person to be your mascot, they become the face of your company. Who thought this was a good face?

And what's up with that first ad? He's definitely not a mom. Did anyone even proofread these ads?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Revenge Of Mr. Puffington J. Tinklejitters

Don't make Mr. Tinklejitters angry... you wouldn't like him when he's angry.

Come to think of it, you probably wouldn't like him when he's calm, either.

I intended this to be a plain old line drawing like the majority of my art, but then I started drawing the fluffy fur (one hair at a time), and before I knew it, it was more like a painting than a drawing.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the very rough sketch of Mr. Tinklejitters. As I said a couple of weeks ago, my sketches seem to be becoming more rough as time goes by. They're less like sketches and more like reminders to draw something later.


There are two very different ways you can take this message...

Spotted on the side of a dumpster downtown.

For the love of God, people! Please, I beg you! Please hire me as a freelance consultant for your advertising and marketing firms. I will look over your proposed slogan or product name and let you know whether or not it is mockable. Despite my age, I am about as emotionally mature as the average 15 year old, and rest assured I can tell you if your message will generate unintentional snickers and laughs, saving you and your firm from untold shame and embarrassment.

Catch Of The Day!

There's a really nice paved trail that runs right through the middle of my city. Despite the fact that it's in town, it looks and feels oddly secluded (as you can see in the photo above). I bet 90% of the residents don't even know it's there. I lived here ten years before I found out about it.

At one point along the trail is this giant fish sculpture. I'm not sure who decided it would be a good idea to install art along such a secluded trail, but there you go.

I don't know who made it or when-- there's no plaque or info around. The fish looks like it's made of tin or some other kind of metal, like a big steam punk robot fish. It's pretty darn big-- probably ten feet long. Despite being surrounded by the city, the trail is relatively quiet. The big metal fish twists and creaks in the wind, and is honestly kind of spooky.

If you look closely you can see that it looks like it's supposed to be hanging off the very end of the pole, but at some point the chain has looped over the pole. That must have been quite a windstorm to blow a giant metal fish over the pole like that.

Whenever I walk by it, it makes me think it's some kind of warning from some hidden race living along the trail. Like they're telling everyone who dares enter their territory to get lost, or you'll end up like that fish.

In case you were wondering, here's what the fish sculpture looks like from space.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Little Dead Riding Hood

I sketched this character over a year ago, but could not for the life of me get it to work. I bet I went through ten or fifteen sketches trying to get her to look right, and finally just gave up in frustration, thinking it was a lost cause.

Then a couple of days ago I remembered it and sketched it out again, and this time it worked out just like I wanted. I guess she just wasn't ready last year and needed more time to percolate.

The moral of the story? Um... Stay in school, kids!

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original very rough notebook sketch. In the sketches I did last year (the ones that weren't working for me) she was always standing straight up with her feet together and hands at her sides. This time I drew her walking with an outstretched zombie hand, and then it all clicked (for me, at least).

Here's the more refined sketch. The toughest part was getting all the critter parts arranged in a pleasing manner. As you can see, I opted not to go with a lobster claw in the final drawing.

My Nephew, The Ten Year Old Senior Citizen

Here's a photo of my nephew from this past Christmas day. I'm starting to suspect he's really an old man walking around in a kid's body. Here we see him wearing the golf hat he received as a gift. In addition to the golf hat, he also got a brand new set of golf clubs.

If that's not enough to convince you, he also got a metal detector for Christmas!

Any day now I expect him to start hitching his pants up to his chest, watching Matlock reruns and eating dinner at 3pm.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


Now that the "Twilight" movies have got the entire country interested in sexy vampires, Flapula is confident that any day now he'll be surrounded by adoring females.

So far he's still waiting...

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original very rough sketch of Flapula.

And here's a tighter digital sketch of him.

How To Get Cool Colored Lines In Your Photoshop Illustrations

Take a look at the two images above. Astute observer that you are, you'll notice that the illustration on the left is drawn with pure black lines, while the one on the right has more subtle colored lines. Both images are fine, but usually I prefer to use colored lines whenever possible. It gives the illustration a kind of animated feature feel, and just seems more polished.

But Bob, you're pleading? How can I get cool colored lines in my illustrations too? Get up off the floor and stop begging and I'll show you.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Miles Ransackington IV

Looks like Miles is coming home from a hard night's work. I wonder what he's got in the bag? He looks like the sensitive type, so I'm going to guess library books. Or perhaps teddy bears for the orphans. Wildflowers he picked for his special lady?

Maybe we'd better just forget about what he's got in the bag and hide until he passes by.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original rough sketch of Miles. As usually happens when I draw the final version, I end up adding stuff that wasn't in the sketch. I added Miles' bag of loot, and then thought he needed a leather jacket to look tougher.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Alex P. Goonington

I don't have too much to say about this illustration-- it's just a bored looking monster kid. I apologize for the dull post, but the brutal cold currently covering my land has dulled my wits considerably.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original sketchbook doodle of him. It's not a very good sketch at all, but there was something about it I liked. I ended up redrawing him pretty much from scratch.


"Greetings, my friend. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future."

So begins Plan 9 From Outer Space, one of my all time favorite movies. In honor of the movie, I thought I'd draw Tor Johnson, who starred in Plan 9 and other Z-Grade horror movies.

When I was a kid I used to see ads in comic books advertising horror movie masks. Among the masks for sale there would always be one of Tor Johnson. I'd never seen him in any films in those pre-home video days, but I assumed he must have been a huge horror movie star, right up there with Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi (well, he was huge, but in a different way). I figured since they sold masks of the Frankenstein monster and there were hundreds of Frankenstein movies out there, by the same logic if they were selling Tor masks there must have been hundreds of his movies as well.

Imagine my surprise when years later I found out that he only appeared in literally a handful of horror films. Those scant few appearances must have made quite an impression on the monster mask industry!

I drew this illustration in pale bluish grays because every image I've ever seen of Mr. Johnson has been in black and white. It didn't seem natural to render him in full color.

By the way, I wasn't kidding about "Plan 9" being one of my favorite movies. Lots of people (most who've probably never even seen it) will tell you it's the worst movie ever made. Far from it. I've seen far, far worse (some of them this year!). Say what you want about it, but despite its flaws you can't deny that it's entertaining. And isn't that why movies exist, to entertain?

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original sketch of Tor.
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