Tag Archives: horror

An Ecstasy of Ghoulish Visions

I first stumbled on the work of Gary Pullin a few years ago when we crossed paths on social media (I don’t honestly remember what platform, though I have a feeling it was on Instagram.) I had seen a Teen Wolf piece he had illustrated for a limited edition Skuzzles screen print and it stopped me dead in my tracks. I was crushing hardcore on this illustration, lost in the intricate beauty of the linework. The piece features a close-up portrait of Michael J. Fox’s Scott Howard, fully wolfed-out, and ready to party at the high school dance. What initially comes across as a simple illustration is actually layered with homage and film references, but what initially drew me in was Pullin’s deft hand at painstakingly illustrating Scott’s hairy visage. I mean, Scott’s a werewolf and there are hairs all over the place. Having spent my fair share of time as an illustrator I can attest to the madness that lay within a piece like this.  There’s this insane balance of detail and suggestion of shape when drawing hair like this, and it’s something that is painfully hard to make appear natural, flowing, and full. As an artist, I find this poster mesmerizing.

So it came as no surprise when I found out that 1984 Publishing was releasing an art book dedicated to Gary Pullin’s work that the decision was made to use this piece as the cover of the book.

Ghoulish: The Art of Gary Pullin is set for release next week and I couldn’t be happier to see such a beautifully handled collection of Gary’s work. Pullin is on the forefront of a new generation of artists and graphic designers that are taking back the commercial side of pop culture art. For the past 20 years commercial art has been in a massive slump due to corporations, studios, publishers, record companies, and ad agencies favoring heavily Photoshopped stock photography or obnoxiously digitally-manipulated artwork, in lieu of creative illustrations and paintings. The era of collectible mainstream album artwork, beautifully rendered movie posters, and painted magazine covers seemed to be long dead. But over the last few years boutique distributors, independent poster and t-shirt companies, and a handful of smaller magazine companies have been ushering in a new era of commercial pop art, and Gary is one of the most creative talents in the movement.

1984 Publishing was kind enough to send me a copy of the book to scope before its release next week. The hefty volume covers the bulk of Gary’s career from the earliest roots of his influences in classic monster movies and Saturday morning, live-action television shows (The Hilarious House of Frightenstein), his decade-long stint as contributing artist and art director for Rue Morgue magazine, on to his expansive portfolio of freelance work for numerous record companies, home video outlets and publishers (including a bevy of album and DVD covers, posters, and other merchandise.) The book showcases well over a hundred pieces of Pullin’s artwork, many of the pieces complete with color variants (posters), concept artwork, rare exclusives and previously unpublished alternate illustrations. I love that the the volume even makes room for his work in the enamel pin collecting community, a nice touch in a genre that doesn’t get much coverage in books like this.

Speaking of exclusives, I was so stoked that the book cover’s Gary’s contribution to the Mondo limited edition 45 records that were released a little over a year ago. Of the 4 variants, Gary’s was the hardest to get a hold of (it was a Texas Frightmare Weekend exclusive) and is still a hole in my collection. At least I can stare longingly at his Wolfman sleeve artwork now…

Scanning through these pages I’m struck by how complex Pullin’s illustrations are in terms of mashing up disparate textures, as well as his ability to playfully mix many layers of concepts and storytelling withing a single piece of art. Gary’s eye for story and design is super fun and he manages to cram in a ton of different ideas without muddying the waters, so to speak. Theie is a lot going on, but the work never feels cluttered. For instance, there are a couple of A Nightmare on Elm Street pieces in the book that look deceptively simple in execution, but as soon as you really take a look at the illustrations you’ll notice that there are layers, upon layers of imagery hidden within the pieces. The way Gary manages to utilize the blades from Freddy’s glove to serve both as the literal blades as well as doubling for the stripes in his iconic sweater was pretty much genius use of space.

This is a theme repeated in Pullin’s work where he finds so many creative ways to layer his imagery. On top of this, Gary never seems to lean too heavily on establish classic imagery from the films he works from. His posters very rarely evoke classic movie poster artwork or famous production stills, so even though he wears his influences on his sleeve his take on the material is highly original and Pullin’s style shines through. Yet all the same, you only have to glance at one of his posters for a moment to fully recognize the film he’s illustrating. In fact, as rich and layered as his artwork tends to be, Pullin has also mastered a subtlety of reference and wickedly deceptive simplicity to evoke a movie with the least amount of detail. Just look at these two pieces below for George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and Walter Hill’s The Warriors…

The brevity and extremely on point designs barely need to feature much in the way of detail to convey exactly what they represent. This is amazingly hard, this ability to boil down story and design to the bare essential. As someone whop dabbles in graphic design myself, I’m gobsmacked.

The glue that binds this book together is provided by April Snellings, who infuses the chapters with thoughtful interviews with Gary that drill into his influences and process. Her ability to tie together the threads of his experience, his passion and his work makes the book a very interesting read for any fans of horror, movies, or just graphic design, illustration and painting. Though a lot of artist spotlight books are typically just heavily illustrated collections, Ghoulish: The Art of Gary Pullin is a much richer, more layered examination of a very talented creative, which somehow manages to perfectly reflect Pullin’s style.

Again, the book is set for release on May 8th, and can currently be pre-ordered through Amazon in two different packages…

If you just want the hardback book, you can find it here.

But there is also an Amazon exclusive set that features a signed book, an 8×10 signed 3-D print of the film House, and branded 3-D glasses as well for just $10 more. This set is limited to just 250 pieces, so you might want to snag this one fast.

Post Card Project Mail-Out Wave 3, Oh the Horror! -UPDATED-

Alright, it’s about time for another Mail-Out session of the Branded in the 80s Post Card Project!  This time around I have a special treat just in time for the Halloween season as I’ve scored a copy of the 1985 Fangoria Magazine postcard issue!

It took me awhile to find an affordable copy of this beauty (when I was scoping it out copies were selling for upwards of $50 each, though now it seems they’re popping up at more reasonable prices.)  Anyway, I was really excited to get my grubby little hands on these vintage postcards, though to be 100% honest, I was a little confused by what I found between the covers.  This issue boasts at offering “24 Incredibly Gross Full Color Postcards!”  I can vouch for their full color-ness, but the gross to not-so-much-so ratio is a bit off.  Anyway, that isn’t to say that these aren’t a batch of fun cards, because they are in fact really fun.

I have decided in the interest of those with weak constitutions and those with inflated expectations of gore, that I should temper this mail-out with some catagories to pick from.  Basically I’ve deemed that there are 13 fun horror themed cards, 7 truly gory cards, and 4 cards that are barely scraping by to be considered horror or Halloween-y related at all (these four were filed under the Scream Queen category in the magazine, but even so the picture choices were very weird.)  So, on a fist come, first serve basis I’ll be sending these out, but it’s important that when requesting a postcard you state whether you want a regular one, a gory one, or one of the not-so-horror scream queen cards.  I’ll keep this post updated with what’s available below…

So if you’d like to received a bona fide 26 year-old vintage horror postcard in the mail directly from Branded in the 80s, send me an email with “Fangoria Postcards” in the subject line.  Be sure to include your name and snail mail address, as well as which type of postcard you’d like to receive.  As with the first and second wave’s participants, if you’d like to take some photos with the postcard, you can send ’em in and I’ll post them here and on the Branded Facebook page with a shout out to your blog or website.

Normal Horror = 3

Really Gory = All Gone

Scream Queens = All Gone

Oh, and in case you were wondering why Fangoria decided to release a postcard issue, the explanation is below in the magazine introduction.  Apparently it had something to do with the convergence of 80s rock, the WWF, horror movies, and aliens?!?  At least they gave us a flow chart to try and understand the reasoning…

    

Cereal Killers Trading Cards and a Contest!

**Update** Alright, I picked three names at random from a hat (well, empty coffee mug) and the lucky winners are: Laura I., Jeremy T H., Khris L.  Congrats guys and gals (I’ve notified you through the FB messaging system for your snail mail address) and thanks to everyone else for entering!

So I came home yesterday and found a package waiting for me at the door, and upon cracking it open I was excited to see this…

These came courtesy of a contest in the premiere issue of the Strange Kids Club Comix Anthology, and I couldn’t wait to dig into the individual boxes to get a glimpse at the loot.  These Cereal Killer trading cards are pretty darn cool and they follow in the tradition of Topps Wacky Packs and Garbage Pail Kids.  The brainchild of artist Joe Simko, this set of spoofs perfectly blends a childhood love of sugary cereal with a score of monsters and horror movie icons.  These sets come with three mini cereal boxes, each containing 20 cards, a special prize and a gross piece of eyeball gum.  As for the special prizes you can expect to find black-light stickers, magnets, gold foil cards, and if you’re lucky an original sketch card from Joe himself.

One of the cool aspects of the set is the social networking built into trying to complete a set.  Wax Eye has set up a thread for trading doubles over at the Wacky Packages forum.  Sure you can buy additional packages, but it’s kind of cool to get back to what it was like in elementary school trading with classmates trying to complete the latest series of Garbage Pail Kids.

In the spirit of this, I’ve decided to hold a mini contest to get my doubles out into the world.  I’m offering up three prizes, a stack of 20 cards, a stack of 10 cards, and one of the super cool black-light stickers.  To get your grubby hands on these all you have to do is head on over to the Branded Facebook Page and leave a comment in the Discussions tab on the left (you can also click on the cards below).  I’ll be picking three winners at random this Friday, May 20th at 3:00pm est.  Good luck, and go check out Joe Simko’s Cereal Killers trading cards!