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Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from Blue Moon Studios! Check out our Halloween-related posts from the last four years...

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Happy Halloween: That's My Boy

Back in 1986, I was but 22 years old, and with my high school pal Scott Beaderstadt had just launched our own comic book, Trollords under our TRU Studios publishing banner. We were early to catch a wave of black-and-white comics, and did better than anticipated. We also met other self publishers, one being Ken Holewcynski of B-Movie Comics in Indiana. Ken invited our Trollords editor, Brian Augustyn and myself to contribute to a story to their horror anthology, and Brian came up with this sweet little tearjerker called That's My Boy. You can read it in its entirety in our Toons section of the site - just scroll down a bit. The panel above is my favorite, as it came out pretty much exactly as I'd envisioned, which doesn't usually happen. This story was a change of pace for me, as Trollords was mostly lighter in tone. But like Trollords, this was to be printed in black-and-white, so I wanted to utilize a variety of crosshatching, sweeping and squiggly lines to set the mood and add a creepy, curdling texture to the proceedings. In some cases, I find it still to be successful, tho if I were to draw the same story today, I'd approach it in an entirely different manner. If it were to be printed again, I'd probably fix a few things having to do with shadows, the cock of a gun (all wrong!) and the splash panel of the house on page 1, and there's one bit of continuity I'd want to make more clear, something pointed out in a review of the book by Don Thompson in The Comics Buyer's Guide (not that I'm holding onto anything...). Who knows, maybe Brian and I will have that chance sometime soon... In the meantime, please give this ol' horror comic a read, and...Happy Halloween!

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Happy Halloween from Frankie!

Happy Halloween from the Blue Moon Crew and Frankie, our Hallow's Eve pal for about a decade!

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Halloween Decorations: Wolfman

We've been displaying this homemade Wolfman poster every Halloween for the last deacde. Done with colored pencils on black board, with a splash of white-out to make it pop. It's measures about 4' tall.

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Decorated Halloween Gourds

Our nice neighbor, Deb took our girls to the pumpkin patch on a day off school Friday. Once home, the girls were busy decorating their gourds in plenty of time for the holiday. Laura's Friendly Gourds: security gourd Mr. Cheddar; groupie Noodle; Li'l Fro Dude; Googly; Red Stem; and the totally pimped-out Smiley.

Emily's Gourdy Band: (left to right) Cheddar and his son; Cooper on keyboard; Lead singer Fluff Guitar Man; on drums, Dino-Dude; and Booger-Man sings back-up.

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Halloween Monster Postcards - Part 2

Continuing to get in the mood for Halloween, these three pieces complete the set of Pixilated Monster postcards I published in 1992.

The Muckety-Mucks are some of my favorites from the postcard set, having been developed in my sketchbooks in the mid-'80s. Glancing at the date, I'm reminded I produced this piece for the 2nd annual Halloween mini-comic (same as for Mummy Gumbo). I've a couple scripts written for Mucks children's book, but it never fully developed, and it would have to wait now anyways, getting in line behind a few other projects. I'll try and dig out some of those early Mucks sketches and post 'em here before the Big Scary Day.

Similar to the Screamin' Meemies (posted yesterday) these guys are all shook up, riffing off another old term. "Heebies Jeebies" is the name of one of Louis Armstrong's earliest hits, and a historic and superb jazz recording to boot.

Easily the most violent of the ten cards, I was able to cut loose and get gross with these Zombies. Eew. Rounding out the set are three cards I've posted previously on this blog: Funrunts, Husks and Space Waster. I've a few of these sets left, I think, and may make them available at our Blue Moon Shop here at this very site.

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Halloween Monster Postcards - Part 1

As Halloween is nigh upon us, it seems the perfect time to finally display the rest of the series of Pixilated Monster Postcards I published as a set in 1992.

I still like how this Mummy Gumbo piece stands out. Because of the dance poses (especially on the lower right -- Tequila!), it puts me in mind of Pee-Wee Hermann, who's Saturday morning show was still on the air at the time. All brush on this one, which was actually done in 1987 for a mini-comic collection and served as the catalyst for the eventual postcard set.

About half of these monsters are visual depictions of fun terms, in this case quite literal. This was done with a crow quill on craft-tint paper.

Here's another group of creatures with a name taken from a recognizable term. Many of these monsters were cooked up in my sketchbook, sometimes trying to find the right look for a certain predetermined term, other times I applied a name afterwards. This one looks too busy to me now, but certainly conveys lotsa manic energy.

A spiky vampire of some kind, done with a combination of brush (figure) and crow quill (background and border). Check back in tomorrow for the balance of the set.

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Stolen Scary Monsters?

My artist pal, Brent Schoonover recently found this Halloween CD in his garage, recognizing the art...


...as the cover art I did in '92 for a Look & Find Scary Monsters book.


I've not seen the CD package yet, so am not sure if the same publisher put both out. But more likely the art was appropriated by a third party without permission. In a way it's a tad flattering, but mostly this kinda thing drives artists crazy. In this case the original publisher owns the copyright to the image as I did the book as work for hire. Otherwise...this Hulk would be mad.

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TothPix: Rude Awakening

Just a few days before Halloween, a perfect time to feature an Alex Toth horror story! Rude Awakening originally appeared in Creepy #7 (Warren), in 1964; Toth was 36. The story was also reprinted in an All Toth issue (Creepy #139). Toth opens the proceedings with a nice rendition of Uncle Creepy, the ever-present narrator. I love Toth's upper/lower-case lettering here, and his signature. Why does a little thing like a nicely-done signature make me so happy?

But it's a pretty stupid story, really. One expects more from writer,  Archie Goodwin (for good reason). It's a trifle, a knocked out circular tale of a guy having hallucinations. There's not much point to it. Despite this, Toth finds interesting ways to tell it, with cool shots like this:

Hmm. "I feel terrible...not sleeping well...nerves shot!"
I can relate! Can't we all? (Or is it just me?)

Toth reinforces the off-kilter sensations of the main character with wild, angled panels throughout. Not one to stoop to tricks and snazzy layouts, Toth does so here only when there's a reason. The panel below displays typical Tothisms: spotted blacks; shadows; varied characters and expressions; foreground elements for framing and depth. There's a visual sweep from left to right as one guys leans to grab Mr. Asher's jacket sleeve, creating horizontal folds. Nice grey washes/tones and textures in this frame and the story in general.

Having done so many comics for Dell using their 6-panel grid (which he came to enjoy), it must've been liberating to go to town and experiment, no more so than in the page below (page 4). Asher is paranoid, nervous and disoriented, being haunted, chased. Toth smartly uses the perspective in panel 1, extending the angles to form the borders of the four panels below it. What cool page composition! All that black negative space is creepy, indeed.

Things don't end well for Asher, as he throws himself out a window, landing in a position not unlike so many characters in Family Guy are shown. Still breathing?! Looks pretty lifeless. But that body has much life!

This weird guy with the Hypno-glasses has been after the poor guy the whole story. Even a 3-story fall couldn't save him.

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Alphabeasts: B is for Bloody Bones

It's week 2 for the 26-week Alphabeasts project, a blog where artists of all types and stripes contribute a mythical creature or beasty any old way that suits them, as long as it's a new drawing or sketch of a creature whose name begins with the letter for that week. For my part this time: Bloody Bones.

My goal is to mix up the medium or approach as dictated by the beast I choose each week, experiment and explore, but always with an eye on simplicity, design, composition and color. This dude was drawn in Manga Studio, colored in Photoshop. These creatures are open in most cases to wide interpretation. Rather than going with the pile of bones or skeleton in the kitchen cabinet, I opted for the bloody skeleton hovering over a pond. So much fun, and just in time for Halloween!

Check out the cornucopia of creatures by an amazing array of artists at the Alphabeasts archive, and be sure to check in every Monday!

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TothPix: Witches in Black & White

Another Halloween approaches, so we feature a Toth page and panel in black and white of the Witching Hour witches!

It sure looks as though he lettered and inked these himself. I like how he varies the word balloon shapes here. Swirls of hair, folds of ragged cloaks and crazy cropping create clever compositions weaving our eye about the frames.

Nice action, spotted blacks and squiggly textures and fun stars in that last panel (above). Figures, folds and the broomstick direct us sharply through the frame. Boiling Bats of Beelzebub, indeed!

Great design in the final frame (below) as Toth varies textures, shapes and angles in this creepy close-up!

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A Pumpkin and His Zombie

Halloween's awful fun when one's kids are little and they're really into it, but it's a blast when they get older, too, cuz they can do all the planning and work themselves! So much easier for the parents, and a blast to see what these creative kids come up with!

The best of pals

Oh, and I borrowed the title of this post from Harlan Ellison's A Boy and His Dog.

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TothPix: Witching Hour - "...Toil and Trouble!"

To wrap up Toth Halloween month, I've cleaned and collected a series of panels & pages from batches of Witching hour issues. These are in no particular order, chosen randomly, which either set the tone for the stories to come, or are great shots of the Three Witches, crone Morded, mother Mildred, maiden Cynthia.

Have a Happy Halloween, everyone!

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I Love Laura's Mummy

I really do! After 21+ years of marriage, I love my wife more than ever - she's a peach! But I also love this mummy my daughter, Laura drew last night. Thoughts of costumes, decorations and Halloween creepies are in the air, on the mind.

Sure, she swiped the brush I use for work from my drawing table (that's supposed to be off limits), but when she produces a cool, crazy mummy like this, who can get too mad?

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TothPix: Grave Undertaking - Details

I posted the full story last week, but I'll focus in this post on some of my favorite panels from the Grave Undertaking story. It's chock full of clever shots, 3/4 bird's-eye perspective, varied characters, patented Toth silhouettes and so much of this horror story is bathed in swaths of shadow. Top notch!

What an opening splash establishing shot! Not simply a through-the-window panel, but an overhead, inside-looking-out, which shows us the client who sets the story into action, outside waiting at the door on a dark, rainy night.

Then, as he leaves, he's inadvertently planted a demon seed in the mind of Mr. Thwackum. I love the door jam askew, framing the cropped face, throwing a shadow across his face and top hat.

As the men set to their grisly task, they get extra greedy. The light source is from the lantern at the lower middle of the frame, highlighting the jewels in hand, basking Mr. Peach in shadow, as well as the creepy profile of Mr. Thwackum in the foreground. Wonderful composition, blocking, lighting and storytelling.

Here's a nice shot from well above, past the huge bell in the foreground, through the tower's window to the creaky horse-drawn carriage below. This helps set the tone and heighten the suspense, the window and gravestones bathed in moonlight.

And when their new business is going well, but bodies aren't coming their way fast enough, they travel to a nearby village for more. Just look at this panel! Toth sets the scene as he establishes the old village, varying textures adding uneven lines, though establishing correct perspective. And the greatest touch - the tilt of the carriage, not only adding visual interest, but also a commentary on the bent nature of the two principals.

At the new graveyard, they're interrupted by a man who meets a nasty fate. All in silhouette save the grey background and the white lantern light and WOK sound effect. So much action, power and detail, conveyed so simply.

Poor guy, he happened upon the wrong twosome! Thwackum gave him a good thwack to the head. This is a brilliant panel, as we look past the murder weapon, the shovel handle cock-eyed in the foreground, to the twisted, lifeless body on the ground, shadows encompassing him, cropping across his face for us to focus on the dead eyes.

This one's a real winner! Breathtaking! Who else would show us the carriage entering the shed from inside overhead, most of the figures and carriage in shadow? All elements are beautifully framed by the doorway, including the client just outside, who's opened the door for them. Striking! I scanned this panel (and the shot of the village) from the Toth: Black & White book (1999 - Auad Publishing).

Next week, the last entry for Toth Halloween month...

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