Tag Archives: Halloween 2008

Day 15 of the Halloween Countdown: It’s doesn’t just look gross, and that’s a shame…




It’s funny, I’ve spend a ton (for me) on candy for this Halloween season, but I’ve yet to talk about any of it yet, so I thought today would be a good day.  The crop of interesting new stuff in the stores right now can hardly be described as a banner year for Halloween candy.  Like most years, 90% of the treats are your basic fun-size output from the major companies, so you won’t have a hard time finding any Snickers or Reese Peanut Butter Cups, and of the remaining 10% most of it is retreads of last years new products.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m just as happy to see Ghost Dots on the shelves again as finding something new, but it sure doesn’t help me with content for the site.


Anyway, I don’t really have a preferential list of favorites, but I do have a handful of candies that feel like they deserve to be at the bottom of a proposed list, so it’s as good a place to start as any.  Basically this year, some of the candy I was most excited about picking up ended up being some of the worst tasting dreg I’ve ever shoved into my mouth.  Flix Candy is sort of making a name for themselves in the odd/grotesque department with a whole assortment of gummi stye candies, ranging from the mildly amusing (Gummi Popcorn), to the out right nauseating (Zit Poppers gummi pimples.)  I first rand across them a couple Halloween seasons ago with one of their first big entries into the market their Fresh Box of Boogers.  What caught my eye initially was the super detailed mascot character on the packaging and the very odd concept of snot gummis.  Back then I didn’t care for the flavor and consistency of the product (they fell into the category of sugar coated gummis that were on the sour side, not some of my favorite things), and even though they supposedly have been improved in the past two years I haven’t been able to bring myself to picking them up again.  This year I couldn’t help but notice how much the company has grown (in terms of product offerings), so I decided to give them another chance and I picked up 4 varieties including Zit Poppers, Bed Bugs, Freaky Fingers, and a life size gummi Gecko that I didn’t bother to photograph after trying the rest of this stuff (it too was awful.)


Zip Poppers…





These are packaged in a very similar manner to the Boogers from a couple years ago and I was expecting them to be the worst of the bunch.  Inside the box is a bag full of wet, translucent flesh-colored gummies with angry looking red tips that are filled with a bit of liquid candy (they are billed as Ozzy, Sticky, Goo Filled Zit Gummies after all.)  Comparatively these are the best tasting candy I’ve sampled from Flix Candy to date, though they aren’t nearly as good as most common brands of gummi candy and I’m not a fan of the sticky messy factor as it feels like an "eat-the-whole-bag-or-throw-the-remainder-away" kind of candy.  The "zit-popping" aspect was lackluster at best (I’ve had better oozing experiences with Freshen Up gum), though there are quite disgusting to look at…





Bed Bugs …





I was really impressed by the quality of the design on the Bed Bugs candy, as it’s pretty rare to find gummies with this many colors and this much detail in the molded design.  Taste-wise their pretty damn horrible and a bit too tough for my gummi palate.  If there was one saving grace (beyond their interesting appearance) it would have to be that fact that 4 of the 8 included gummis had a camouflaged candy sugar coating that make for a ghastly and realistic (I’m assuming here) bug crunch that really took me aback…





Freaky Fingers…





I’ve come across two large sized gummi severed hands this season which in and of itself is cause for celebration.  For this Flix candy severed hand installment I was really jazzed by the coloring and the detail in the molded design.  This looks like a perfect gummi zombie or decompsed corpse hand, though unfortunately as far as taste and consistency goes, this was horrible.  The candy tastes like it’s laced with a low quality gasoline or petroleum product of some sort, and it was tough as all get out.  Maybe this is the trade-off for such a nice appearance and design, but if that’s the case give me less detail and colors and a better taste and mouth-feel.  This is candy we’re talking about and it shouldn’t be a chore to eat it.





If nothing else, I hope Flix candy keeps plugging away at their formulas and hopefully they can find a nice middle ground between appearance and taste.  They are trying which is something I can’t say about a lot of other companies out there…

Day 14 of the Halloween Countdown: Don’t mess with this version of Frankenstein!




If I had to pick my favorite scary, creepy, Halloween-y character ever, it would most likely be Frankenstein’s monster.  There’s something about his sad, lumbering, misunderstood figure that I can identify with.  Over the years I’ve amassed a small collection of Shelley’s book, as I’m always willing to pick up a new copy when I find a cover I really like, or (gasp!) if it’s illustrated.  One of my favorite permutations of the book is the 1988 Step-Up Classic Chillers adaptation by Larry Weinberg (published by Random House.)  It’s not the adaptation that I love, but the creepy cover (painted by Lisa Falkenstern), and the interior pen and ink illustrations by Ken Barr





There’s something very menacing about the way the monster is pulling back the shroud on the cover; there’s a bit more of the spark of life in the character’s face and intent in his posture.


As far as the interior illustrations go, I was surprised by how influenced they were by the classic Universal version of the creature’s visage (I always thought that Universal was pretty litigious when it comes to squared-off, flat-topped interpretations of the monster.)  Ken Barr’s illustrations are really fun and are in the vein of 70s and 80s era comic book art (which makes sense considering Barr did a lot of work for Marvel and D.C., as well as men’s adventure magazines.)  If I’d have found this particular version as a kid I would have flipped for it…





In particular I love how aged and weather beaten the monster’s face appears, with the hard worn wrinkles and deep crags around his eyes and the evil looking laugh lines around his mouth.  Granted, I also love the more standard vacant or innocent look the creature is given, but every once in awhile it’s refreshing to see the seething anger just below the surface of the monster, if not outright as it is in this book…














Day 13 of the Halloween Countdown: Now I want to see a Groo Vs. Freddy comic…




Well, I did some podcasting this weekend, though it wasn’t what I thought I might be doing.  I won’t go into the specifics until they’re final, but I’ll be a guest on another show in the coming weeks, and I snagged some audio for a Branded podcast that I’ll hopefully have up this coming weekend.  Should be fun.


For the countdown today I present a few comics by the mega-awesome Sergio Aragones which he did for the October 1987 issue of MAD magazine.  They all center around A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors…


Day 10 of the Halloween Countdown: The background makes the cel…




Well, today wraps up a week-long look at my collection of animation cels from the Real Ghostbusters cartoon, an even though I’m not familiar with the episode this particular set of three cels comes from, it’s my favorite example from the show…





When I first started picking up animation cels my wife was a bit skeptical.  Even though she still adores cartoons in general, she wasn’t sold on the idea of animation cels as interesting or as a piece of art.  We came to the conclusion that she was really missing the overall appearance of the cartoon in that there were no backgrounds to go along with the still images I was showing her.  I guess character cels out of context just didn’t seem as much a part of the show, even though these are the exact cels that were filmed.  There’s just something to be said for the aesthetics of a complete image, even if it’s not exactly feasible to obtain painted cartoon backgrounds.  For one some backgrounds are very large paintings that encompassed entire environments and were "zoomed in on" or cropped as the 8"x10" or 11"x14" cel layers were placed on a section.  Others were used repeatedly in many episodes and are much rarer (especially in terms of being packaged up with the photographed cels and stored after a series was done.)


So when I happened upon the set pictured above, I knew my wife’s eyes would light up as it’s a much better example of a cartoon micro-second frozen in time.  Now technically this set doesn’t have a traditional background included.  The cloud of purple smoke rippling behind the three anthropomorphized animal creatures is also a single cel that included its own moving aspects.  It’s enough to fool the eye though and that’s all that matters (at least to my wife.)





Besides the completeness which appeals to me, I also think it’s a perfect example of the great animation that existed on the show.  The rest of the cels I shared earlier in the week all seemed a bit rougher in terms of graceful line work, and since they were taken out of context of the scenes they were originally in you don’t get a feel for the over all compositions and color schemes from the cartoon, which I am still a big fan of.





These figures are alao a heck of a lot more dynamic in terms of shape and depth because there is a layer of shadow and highlights to the figures that I’m not finding in a lot of the other cels I’ve purchased.  This is an aspect of animation that really resonates with me, and it’s why I was so drawn to anime when I first discovered it in the early 90s.  When you compare a lot of traditionally animated fare from America (whether or not it was physically animated overseas) and most anime you’ll notice this is one of the big differences, the use of layers of shadows and color variation that really makes animation pop.  When I first started coloring my own art digitally, adding these additional layers was the "eureka" moment I needed to understand the process better (I wrote about this awhile back here.)  I wonder if this is a step that tends to get skipped because of the possible expense in terms of time and energy spent on an aspect that will most likely be ignored by the target audience?







Also, I wanted to take a second to remind everyone that the complete Real Ghostbusters series is going to be available for purchase soon.  You can pre-order your set at the Time Life website (which is the only place outside of used copies that might end up on eBay) for $179.  Though I’m currently coveting the set, I don’t think it’s going to be one that I can work into my DVD budget at that price (an in the complete series format.)


So this closes the chapter on Halloween-y animation cels for this year’s countdown.  For the next couple weeks I’m going to keep the posts a little more random, though mostly 80s influenced.  Also, I might be back this weekend for some more movie commentary podcasting, but first I need to watch more flicks…

Day 9 of the Halloween Countdown: Punk rock Receptionists rule!




A bunch of Real Ghostbusters animation cel posts wouldn’t be complete without one red-haired, sassy, bespectacled receptionist extraordinaire named Janine Melnitz!





In film and in TV Janine Melnitz gets credit for being one of my first real crushes (in good company with Faye Grant from V, Mitzi Mozzarella from the Showbiz Pizza Rock-Afire Explosion Band, Jacqueline Bisset circa 1983 in the flick Class, and of course Adrienne Barbeau.)  One aspect of the character that I always found interesting was that she was pretty different style-wise in the cartoon than in the first movie, but by the time the second movie rolled around, the writers and designers (or at least Annie Potts) decided to co-opt the look from the cartoon.   I did think it was kind of a cop-out that she dropped her interest in Egon in the 2nd film for of all people Louis Tulley.





Anyway, back to the cel, as you can see above this cel is a prime example of the damage that can be done over time by storing them directly on top of the pencil under drawings.  The under drawing adhered to the paint and was destroyed, forever merged with the cel.  Granted, I don’t think studios ever thought of the post-photographed cels as any sort of asset and I’m sure stuff them into boxes and packed ‘em in un-climate controlled storage facilities to gather dust until the day when some unsuspecting citizen bought them in a blind storage auction.  Being a huge fan of 80s cartoons, and considering these cels as pieces of art in and of themselves, I think it’s a downright shame that they’re mistreated and I’m sure a good portion of them are lost to time because they’ve either deteriorated or become one huge merged stack of cel, paint and paper.


Oh well, at least I’ve managed to find a few and give them a good home.  More or less rounding out the main cast of the Real Ghostbusters cartoon is one of my least favorite characters, Slimer, the ugly green spud himself.





Though I didn’t mind him as a humorous villain in the live action flicks, his presence in the cartoon added an unwelcome air of Scooby Doo-ness.   Now don’t get me wrong, I love Scooby Doo, but I never thought the Ghostbusters needed a pet-like mascot, and besides the odd relationship between Lydia and Beetlejuice in the BJ cartoon, I wasn’t very find of twisting around the hero/villain roles for cartoon adaptations of movies.  It doesn’t help that as the series went on it morphed into an almost all-Slimer show which was nowhere near the quality of the proceeding seasons.






Day 8 of the Halloween Countdown: Here there be monsters!




Honestly, I’m not quite feeling the Halloween-y with these Real Ghostbusters cels, so to remedy that a bit, lets skips past more cast members and get to some of the nifty monsters from the show!  These rat-like subway creatures are some pretty gnarly customers.  I think they’re a nice example of the non-ghost cryptozological wonders that our four heroes battled against on a regular basis in the cartoon…





As for interesting aspects to this first cel, I really dig the pencil under drawing that I scored with it.   I’m not sure if the under drawing is hinting at the next drawing (which I suspect), or referencing the previous drawing and cel, but I love the alternate view of the creatures with their sharp-toothed mouths all agape.  The creatures sure seem a heck of a lot more fierce that way to boot.





Here’s another cel of the same creatures from a later scene…







There, that’s a bit more in the mood I’d say…

Day 7 of the Halloween Countdown: Wwwwwiiiinnnnsssstttttooooonnnn!




Today’s cel completes the core line-up of the Ghostbuster crew with Winston Zeddmore (Zeddemore in the movies) and Ray Stanz.  As opposed to yesterday’s cels, both characters are painted on the same layer which I think is kind of weird.  Like I mentioned, I’m kind of confused as to when animators will combine characters on the same cel or split them up.  I sort of figure that characters would be separated when one or both are "moving" so as to make it easier to keep them independent or save on mistakes, but in this cel it appears that Winston and Ray are having a conversation which would imply movement, at least in their heads and mouths.  I don’t know…





Also in the vein of yesterday’s discussion, I wanted to note that Winston also underwent a change between the movies and the cartoon in that the character seems much younger and enthusiastic, while dropping the almost burnt out mellowness of Ernie Hudson’s live-action portrayal.  I think character-wise he ended up changing the most, probably to make him more appealing to kids.





One of the other aspects that this cel illustrates is how much cheaper the actual paint stock seems in comparison to cels from other cartoons.  It’s thin enough so that you can clearly see the photocopied line work on the cel through the layers of paint.





Lastly, even though I always felt that the Real Ghostbusters had much better animation that a lot of its contemporaries, I’m not so sure now.  Looking at the pencil line work above for instance there seems to be a less sure hand at work.  It’s either that or it was drawn super fast as a lot of the lines don’t connect or feel kind of wavy, not nearly as fluid as some of the other pencil under drawing work that I’ve seen.  Again, because of super hectic animation schedules or less experienced animators, I’ll probably never know…

Day 5 of the Halloween Countdown: Waiter, there’s Halloween in my Cartoon Commentary!




Well, I didn’t get off my lazy butt for a Sunday post, but the world isn’t ending because of it (there are so many blogs doing Halloween countdowns this year I think we can all stand to take a break for a day here and there.)  This week I thought it would be fun to have my normal subject matter and the Halloween countdown converge with an entire week of animation cels from the Real Ghostbusters cartoon.   I recently picked up a bunch of nice cels and have been talking about them in my regular Cartoon Commentary! column.  So break out the proton pack, warm ‘er up and get ready to bust some ghosts (or do something more creative like redecorating your house with the portable nuclear generator strapped to your back, or rescue some helpless kittens in trees by blasting them off the branches, it’s up to you.)




I picked up these first couple cels as a set.  In this scene Peter Venkman and Egon Spengler are walking together.  Now one of the things I love about going over these animation cels is trying to learn more about the process of making cartoons by studying the art and how it was put together.   These cels raise the question of scene construction for me.  Now I always assumed that a scene with multiple characters would be broken down into many layers of cels, each with one aspect of the scene painted on it.  For this set of cels there’s one for Egon, one for Peter, and I assume there was at least a background (and possibly another layer of background objects that might be moving.)  On the other hand, I figured that if two of these aspects come into contact (outside of the background which is typically not on a cel, but rather a painting that the cels are shot on top of, or which are transposed onto later in the process) that they’d end up being painted onto the same cel.  I’ve seen examples of this in cels available on eBay where characters grabbing each other, or layered on top of each other are on the same cel (in fact the cel that I’m going to share tomorrow has Ray and Winston together on the same layer.)


Well since this set is in two layers, it makes me wonder why.   My best guess is that one or both of the characters won’t stay static for very long, so it would be easier to just paint that character again on a new cel to show the movement, and there would be less of a chance of screwing up and less work in general than having to paint both characters over again.







Another aspect to this set that I found interesting are the pencils for Peter that I picked up along with the cels.  The whole form that appears on the final painted cel isn’t in the pencils.  Again, this suggest to me that the animators used the body that was already drawn for the previous cel and just changed his head.  This seems like a pretty standard way of saving on drawing time.  What I’m curious about is how they merged the two sets of pencils (this head with the previous body) for photocopying onto the cel above.  Since this drawing of Peter’s head is still on a full sheet of paper and not cut out and pasted over the previous body drawing’s head, how did they get the new final image?  In the examples of this time saving practice that I’ve seen before, the new pencils are typically added to a photo copy of the previous drawing, which when copied onto the cel looks like one smooth set of line work.  I guess the animators in Korea could have photocopied this drawing of Peter’s head and pasted it over the other drawing.  Again, it then raises the question of how they store their finished work when it’s done and what sets of pencils to keep with what finished cels.  Actually that’s more of a nitpicky question that seems a bit too pointless to wonder about (unless I’m planning on getting a job collating for an Asian animation house.)





These cels are a nice example of how not to over work one’s self as an animator.  Notice that Egon’s right shoulder is missing the Ghostbuster’s logo patch.  Obviously there’s no point in drawing it, and then wasting paint when the shoulder is just going to be covered up by Peter in the shot.  Of course I wonder where it’s best to draw the line on this sort of practice.   I mean why not leave off most of Egon’s right arm while you’re at it?  Seems sensible enough, though maybe the logistics of not finishing the drawing might make it a little more difficult or tricky to animate (like if the cels where laid down in the wrong order, there would be one weird looking armless Egon instead of him just missing his BG patch.)







I do have to wonder why the producers and designers of this cartoon decided to make the characters so different, not only from the original movie, but between the various character designs.   I suppose this was an extreme and early example of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles phenomenon where it would be easier for kids to tell the characters apart if they had their own color schemes, in particular with the hair colors.  I always thought it was a very odd decision to make Egon tow-headed instead of having dark hair.  Not only does it seem really out of place when comparing him to his real life counter part played by Harold Ramis, but it changes the characters possible Jewish ancestry to something more Nordic (or Jewish new wave/punk.)  What’s even weirder to me is that I never questioned it as a kid.  Egon was Egon, and that was all there was to it.




Day 4 of the Halloween Countdown: Some fine British horror classics!




Well, I decided to record a podcast about some of my movie watching this Halloween season, and hopefully I’ll get it in just under the wire for day 4 of the countdown.  It’s about 25 minutes long, so it won’t melt your brains or anything, and for those of you brave enough to make it through the whole show there is a little treat at the end.  I basically talk about two movies, The Abominable Snowman (the 1957 Hammer Yeti flick starring Peter Cushing and Forrest Tucker) and the 1972 Amicus adaptation of Tales From the Crypt (also starring Peter Cushing and a young Joan Collins.)  Below are some screen captures of interest and the original movie posters.  Enjoy!







Above are stills of the amazing Peter Cushing, and Forrest Tucker (star of F-Troop and the 1975 Filmation Ghostbusters live action Saturday Morning show that I talked about some time back.)


Below is an example of the surprising cinematography in the flick…





I love how the Yeti were handled visually in the film.  Subtle, but effective.





Below, the awesomely creepy poster for the Amicus adaptation of Tales From the Crypt…





Here we have some still from TFtC including our unsuspecting tour patrons, and the understated Ralph Richardson as the Crypt Keeper…





Below we have some hints as to the dreadful fun that this flick contains…





Hopefully I’ll be back tomorrow with a look at a couple of the 80s horror flicks that I loved growing up.

Peel Here #79, the only variation on baseball where the managers don’t threaten the umpires, because they’re probably vampires!

So how is everyone digging this years Halloween blogfest across the internets?  I know I sure am.  Seems like I’m bending the space/time continuum to do it, but I’m finding the time to both post and read a good bit of everyone else’s posts as well.  Here’s to keeping up that pace (and since I’m playing with astrophysics, I’m going to take a crack at that sticky time travel issue that everyone seems to think is improbable…)

For today’s countdown post I’m going to do my last Halloween themed Peel Here column for the foreseeable future (as I’m running out of sticker fodder to post in general, and haven’t found all that much in the Halloween-y vein to begin with.)  It will be a beaut though as it’s a huge set of Donruss baseball/monster-themed sticker cards from 1988 called Awesome! All*Stars…

The copy of the set that I procured is actually from the Canadian subsidiary of Donruss, Leaf (which I hated while collecting Baseball Cards growing up since they seemed like counterfeit cards, no offense to my brethren from the great white north intended.)  The set consists of 98 different sticker cards and 1 checklist card, which one of the biggest sticker card sets I’ve seen (much more in line with the other Donruss sets, the CHiPs and Zero Heroes sticker cards I talked about awhile ago.)  For one thing, the whole set is made up of stickers instead of just having a smaller subset, but it’s still over twice as large as anything that Topps has issued since the early 70s (even Garbage Pail Kids sets typically only contain 40 or so unique stickers.) 

Not only that but I have a theory that these are also all drawn/painted by the same artist, and I think I’ve even pin pointed his name, B.K. Taylor.  Actually it was sort of a bit of kismet figuring this out as I have another separate item that I’m going to take about this month, a Monster joke book published in the late 80s that contains illustrations eerily similar to the work in this set (as well as having some baseball themed monsters that are pretty damn close to one of the characters in the set.)  When I was researching him online I also stumbled upon a set of cards I’m positive he did called Odd Rods (in another odd coincidental bit of kismet, a reader of Branded asked me to help him identify this sticker card set this past month!)  You can see more of Mr. Taylor’s artwork here.  I’m a pretty big fan of this style of goofy monster, a descendant of Big Daddy Ed Roth’s Rat Fink

I was kind of excited while flipping through this set for the first time.  These are set up in that G.P.K.-esque tradition of taking a name and combining it with an attribute to give the characters a little more personality, and for the first time that I can remember there was not only a “Shawn” card, but it was spelled like my name (and not like apparently every other Sean or Shaun out there.) Of course, this rare Shawn, is also Shawn the Sissy, a nail biting girly monster in a tutu (as you can see in the upper left below.)  You can probably imagine my football-pulled-out-from-under-Charlie Brown-like scream of “AAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHH” when I came upon it.  Sheesh.

The card backs were split two ways, with half of the set getting short little punny bios, and the other containing puzzle pieces to make a giant poster…

Seriously, this set has a pretty big card back poster (at 28 cards, four rows of seven cards), though it’s not quite as big as the CHiPs card back poster (which contained 66 card backs.)

I was surprised that with a set this big there wasn’t a ton of repeated jokes, though there was one instance that was pretty glaring in terms of repeating the funny…

All in all I’m in love with these stickers and I kind of lament that I was “out of” sticker collecting by that point or I’d probably have been introduced to it decades earlier.

So the rough plan for this month is to only post on weekdays, but I’m still toying with the idea of doing some spooky movie commentary on the weekends.  We’ll see how that goes, or in what form it might take…