Saturday, December 29, 2007

A Kid And His Cryptid

I really don't care what all the cynical critics are saying, I think the Water Horse is a wonderful film. Simple, classic story with sumptuous visuals and nice performances. Of course, I am a cryptid-obsessed father of two, so I might be the bullseye of the target market, but so what. It's full of crypto-nods to 'authentic' Nessie lore, and the monster is just wonderful (aren't they all, though?). At least I'm not the only one who likes it...

Friday, December 28, 2007

A Year Of Saturdays

The latest edition of the legendary, off-model, Cartoon Network Calendar is out, and I just can't believe my guys are in it. Drawn in a Kamandi-ish King Kirby style by the super-awesome J. Ortiz, no less! Now it's really official... I've joined the illustrious CN line-up. Happy New Year!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Have A Ghoul Yule

Remember to help out a monster this Christmas.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Dear Santa...

... I want North American Region Code DVD's with English subtitles of last years' Nekome Kozo (Cat-Eyed Boy) based on the maga by Umezz, and the live action Kitaro movie, please. And all of these Shigeru Mizuki toys. Thank you.

Manoo Manoo... Shazzbutt!

Got some time off? Looking for something cool to peruse online? I humbly reccommend this Jack Kirby Monster blog, chock full of early Marvel monster action, including nice scans of a slew of never before reprinted stories. Rare and Rampaging!

Monster Toys For Girls And Boys

I've been a busy guy lately. Had a really great trip down to Mattel Toys HQ in El Segundo last week. Great bunch of people with jobs at least as fun as mine. It's official... Mattel will be doing our Secret Saturdays action figure line, and it's going to be awesome. Too bad we have to wait until Fall 2009 for the first wave... Merry Christmas 2009, everybody! One of the Cartoon Network Consumer Products team members I had in my corner for the presentation was Rick Blanco, who also just happens to paint creepy pictures in his spare time. We had a chat during the break about Leonard Nimoy's In Search Of... TV series that inspired and disturbed us both as youngsters. 'Leonard Searching' (pictured above) is described on his site thusly... "This painting is a bit of an homage to my childhood. In the late 1970's/early 80's there was a show called "In Search Of," which was hosted by Leonard Nimoy. This show used to investigate mythological, supernatural or cryptozoological subjects and even though much of it was over the top conjecture, it gave me the creeps while keeping me enthralled the whole time. I'll always remember the raw grainy footage of the Sasquatch looking over its shoulder as it stomped back into the forest. Here little Leonard has gone searching for his ball or a new friend and winds up with both."

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Delinquent Teens

Well now, this is certainly a surprise! The Teen Titans story I did with Bob Haney and the Allreds many a moon ago is finally going to see print next January. Too bad Mr. Haney, the creator of the original Titans, isn't alive to see it. I talk all about the book to Jen Contino over at The Pulse. "Featuring the original Teen Titans: Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, Speedy and Aqualad! Classic Teen Titans writer Bob Haney sends the Titans into space to rescue President John F. Kennedy in this story illustrated by Jay Stephens (The Land of Nod) & Mike Allred (Madman, X-Statix)! Meet new alien races, witness a startling betrayal, and more! It's a secret space adventure that couldn't be told...'til now!"

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Veil Thins...

The best of Boos to you and yous.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Mummy Mania!

If you're in the Vermont area this afternoon, get on over to
The Henry Sheldon Museum for Mummy Mania! Egyptian Mummies and How They Were Made, where kids can practice the ancient Egyptian technique of mummification on a toy or doll. The embalming bash runs from 1 to 3 p.m. beginning with a talk by mummy expert S.J. Wolfe, followed by mummy making, creating a Halloween mummy mask, hieroglyphics lessons, and an episode of my cartoon Tutenstein. Wolfe also discusses the context surrounding a mummy of a small boy acquired by the museum.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Upright Beast

The Paranormal Database is an astoundingly thorough and well-conceived site devoted to strange goings-on in the United Kingdom, and I've been spending a few hours of research there recently. With a little digging around, you'll find reference to Sherwood Forest's cryptid, the 'Upright Beast'... also known as The Sherwood Thing or the British Werewolf. (From The Evening Post, November 28th, 2002) An eight foot, hairy man-beast with red glowing eyes is said to be on the prowl... the 'Sherwood Forest Thing'. Beast watcher Chris Mullins says: "I believe it's feasible. Wildmen could still exist in our time. Notts and Derbyshire are known for their underground caves and catacombs, explored and unexplored, and the woods could conceal a lot." This same creature has been spotted throughout the weird and wonderous Nottinghamshire region where it has garnered some other local nicknames, including 'The Fiskerton Phantom'.

Friday, October 19, 2007

It's Never Too Late

... But you really ought to hurry if you want to grab a great costume, decoration, or prop for Halloween. Fright Catalog has some spectacular stuff, and a handy shipping time estimate right on the site (North Americans can get stuff in 24 hrs!). And if you're in the London area this weekend, it's not too late to haul your carcass to The 12th International Halloween Festival at Queen Mary College, Mile End Road, from 12noon-8pm. Tarot readers, a Pagan craft market,lectures, and workshops... sounds like a party to me!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

All Sorts Of Souls

The bad news is that I'm too busy this year to post up any sort of Hallowe'en storm here on MONSTERAMA. The good news is that I don't need to! Branded In The 80's, John Rozum, Neato Coolville, Plastic Pumpkins, and Secret Fun Spot are all contributing daily holiday posts for what they're calling '31 Days Of Halloween', and it's more monstrous mish-mash than you fiends can probably digest in one mere month! But don't take my word for it.. go look! And you'd better get busy... we're already 18 days in.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Saturdays Are Back!

Well, it's official... my cartoon series is going to be called THE SECRET SATURDAYS after all! Thanks a million to all you wonderful monster fans for supporting me during the 'wrong name days' as that dark period of my life shall forever be called. Kudos to the Cartoon Network for making a great choice.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Clap for the Kappa

It's sort of surprising that Japan's Kappa... cute creeps that appear as half-turtle, half-hominid river spirits... aren't better known outside of their native haunt considering how hugely popular they are there. I mean, the Kappa is probably Japan's most famous monster. From the great Shigeru Mizuki's adorably weird Sanpei the Kappa to the classic brushy comic strip work of Kon Shimizu (Kappa Tengoku, Kowataro the Kappa, etc.) which became the spokesmonsters of Kizakura Sake for many decades, Kappa are a big part of Japanese pop culture. Not that these river-dwelling pranksters are a modern phenomenon, though... no, sir! Kappa are venerable Yokai, and have been a part of Japanese folklore for centuries. I was just re-watching Miike's The Great Yokai War again, and loving the depiction of Kawataro the Kappa (named for the Shimizu character? See responses...). Frankly, you can't have a Yokai movie (from the Yokai Monsters trilogy from the 1960's, to the recent monsterpiece Kibakichi) without a Kappa! This guy Kyoichi Shimazaki, AKA Ghostman, has some really wonderful effects makeup and behind the scenes images on his site, including the stunning Kappa creation pictured below. Wish I knew what it was created for, but I can't read Japanese.Follow the links and discover the Kappa, my friends. But don't get too close to the water!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Motley Ghosts

Ahhh, the month of October. Harvest season and the time of Samhain. Takes me back to Merry Old England and her grand tradition of silly spectres (ok, it's a bit of a stretch, but stay with me). Paul at The Cobwebbed Room has loads of scans from the Fleetway monster comics I loved as a kid. And remember The Ghosts Of Motley Hall? Those were the days, my fiends...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Boos and Cackles

To innaugerate Monsterama's new look, I'd like to revisit one of my first posted topics and return you to the cutest creep of all... Guba has an amazing online library of classic Casper the Friendly Ghost cartoons that could easily scare away an entire afternoon. Casper was one of my favourite cartoons as a kid, and the comic books could be darn good, too (don't forget to pick up a copy of the new Casper collection)!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Luminous Monsters

When I was a kid (around 8 or 9, going by the copyright date on the label), I had these exact glow-in-the-dark stickers on the headboard of my bed. I loved them even though they freaked me out a little, and made me feel sort of queasy if I looked at them too long. I found this unopened package in Chicago years ago, and always keep it close by my workspace to 'inspire' me. Stuff like this can bring the kid in me right back to the surface. Just thought I'd share.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


Some of the crew working on the Secret Saturdays were surprised to discover that the 'cryptids' that appear in the show are all based on real modern sightings of strange creatures or on traditional folkloric beasts from cultures around the world. The mixture of hard science and local mythology that make up what is known as 'Cryptozoology' has fascinated me since childhood. Scattered data collected by such pioneers as Charles Fort and Bernard Heuvelmans has inspired a devoted branch of science dedicated to the study of mysterious animals. I check in on Loren Coleman and Cryptomundo every day, and it's a great place to begin your own research into the world of mystery beasts. And I never miss an article of Dr. Karl Shuker's in Beyond, either. I hope the real cryptozoologists out there don't think I'm trivializing their work so much as popularizing it through animation. I take the stuff seriously. No, really. Don't laugh. I believe in Sasquatch, don't you?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Great Scott!

Saturdays director supreme Scott Jeralds has finally joined the space age with nifty blog. Drop by and tell him I said 'hello', and don't forget to take a gawk at the unique Iwao Takamoto art. I guess your one-of-a-kind original, jumbo-sized, Frankenstein Jr. get well card is too big to scan, huh, Scott?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Make Tracks

If you hurry, you might still be able to snag a copy of Make magazine's awesome Halloween special edition. It is seriously fabulous, with gorgeous full page artwork and a cover by Seth, detailed articles on Haunters and how to build some of your own animatronic props, tips on creating gross makeup, and much more. If your local bookseller is all sold out (and it wouldn't be surprising!), you can at least follow the link to some terror-iffic online tips.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Name that Toon?

I'll admit it, I'm upset. News from way up high at Cartoon Network is that we have to change the name of our animated series from 'The Secret Saturdays', a title that everybody I've ever spoken to loves (including very nearly everyone at Cartoon Network itself!), to 'The Secret Adventures Of Zak Saturday', which sounds remarkably similar to 'The Sweet Life Of Zack and Cody' or 'The Life and Times Of Juniper Lee'. Ugh. The worst part is that the new title isn't as good at reflecting what our show is really about... it's like calling the Fantastic Four 'Johnny Storm and his amazing Friends'. Please let CN know which title you like best here. Thanks.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Momo a Go-Go

The Secret Saturdays director Scott Jeralds and I were talking last week and, being his birthday, I guess he was a little nostalgic. It came to light that 35 years ago this summer, Scott was vacationing in Missouri during the terrifying Momo monster flap of 1972. It was wonderful to get that kid-perspective of the event-- I mean, can you imagine being a fantasy-prone kid who discovers that your parents have been shielding you from the news that a real, honest-to-gosh, dog-killing monster is roaming around exactly where you're having a nice, rural vacation? Yipes! I know producer Fred Schaefer once told me about the Goat-Man that was said to live in the swampy woods near his childhood home in New Orleans, and I'm starting to wonder just how many folks on the crew have had cryptozoological encounters! Sadly, I've never spotted a Sasquatch or oogled an Ogopogo. I feel so unqualified for the job!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Hallowe'en Town

I was hanging out on Magnolia Boulevard this afternoon checking out all the drop dead gorgeous pin striping on display for the hot-rod studded 'Be-Bopping In The Park' and finally got the opportunity to visit the new Halloween Town location. It felt like home, naturally. Too much fabulously fearsome goodies to describe here... spend some time creeping around their site to get the idea. What I'd really like to know is how they get the murder of real-life crows to skulk around the outside of the store!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Hearing Voices

You what's really fun? Getting to sit in on an animation voice recording. Even better? When the actors get along like the family you want them to portray and have just as much fun with the material as you have listening to them record it. The pilot episode was recorded this week in lovely North Hollywood in two seperate sessions to break up the hour-long script. The cast is just plain amazing... funny, enthusiastic, and perfect for the show. The big villian of the piece, Argost, is portrayed in gooseflesh-raising glory by none other than Corey Burton of 'Haunted Mansion Holiday' fame. It's a truely brilliant bit of old-school horror acting that I guarantee Monsterama fans will dig. Doc and Drew Saturday are played by Phil Morris and Nicole Sullivan respectively, in characterizations even better than I imagined. Phil is best known to you lot as the Martian Manhunter from 'Smallville', and Nicole is probably best recognized from 'MadTV' and 'King Of Queens'. Sam Lerner (Chowder from 'Monster House) does a bang-on Zak Saturday, and Diedrich Bader of 'Drew Carey Show' fame is uncanny (and hilarious!) as Fiskerton. 'Batman Beyond' himself, Will Friedle does a great Doyle, and Fred Tattasciore freaked us all out with some amazing monster sounds for Komodo and Zon. What a blast!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Lurking in the Backgrounds

Here are a couple of background paintings for the Secret Saturdays. I really wanted a lot of solid blacks and gritty texture to stay on the screen, which is fairly abnormal these days, and I sent the crew a bunch of old Roy Crane scans to emphasize the 'spotted blacks'. I think we've achieved a really nice comic-booky, updated Jonny Quest vibe with these.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

It's Saturday

I'm thrilled to pieces about our having Scott Jeralds aboard directing the Secret Saturdays, and not just because he has stories about Iwao Takamoto, Doug Wildey and Alex Toth from his days at Hanna Barbera. Scott and I share the same cartoon influences and predilections, and Mr. Jeralds is a man who really 'gets' this show. The fabulous crew he's assembled in-house seem to be a very loyal to him, as well, and things are looking very very nice as a result. I guess it's also looking good because it's such a fun show to work on. That's what they tell me, anyway. The storyboards for the hour-long pilot episode are nearly all done, and it's looking wicked! Here's a quick peek at a monster transformation sequence by none other than Monsterman Mike Manley...

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Hills Have I

I'm settling down to my first lonesome night in the Hollywood Hills, right across Barham Boulevard from the ol' Bates Motel in the Universal lot. I'm staying at the Oakwood Toluca Hills, about one hundred feet away from where a couple of kids from Illinois started a fire that nearly burned down Griffith Park earlier this summer. The dead, blackened wood jutting out of sun-baked earth gives the place a rather post-apocalyptic look. It's very homey.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Off to Horrorwood

Well, I'm all packed up and ready to go. My U.S. Work Visa finally came through (for more on that drama, please refer to dear Steve 'Tyrant' Bissette's blog), and I'm going to spend the month of August in Los Angeles working on the Secret Saturdays intstead of dealing with all the emailing, FTPing, and Conference Calls that have dominated the last three months. I ought to have time to post every evening, so stay tuned while Monsterama becomes something of a production blog for the next few weeks.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Happy Friday The 13th!

The Secret Saturdays has been so fun to work on so far! Here's some creepy concept art by me from the first couple of episodes, including the fiendishly fun billboard above, promoting our show-within-a-show, 'Weirdworld'.

Breakfast Of Skeletons

The mad mad plans of my petrifying pal Doctor Von Kreep are finally coming to fruition! Cereal Killers will soon be here. Kreep calls it "A spooky, kooky coffin table cartoon art book featuring terrorfying takes on some of your favorite breakfast cereal's." And, yes, I'm involved.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Beast vs. The Living Vampire

Welp... the news has finally leaked out about the Marvel Comics 'indy' anthology, so I might as well officially confirm my participation. Rather unsurprisingly, my short piece features a couple of characters from the '70's 'monster-hero' phase that Marvel went through during my childhood. Anyone who read the original run of Son Of Satan will get my drift, here. Monsters fighting each other seems quintessentially Marvel to me... as do extended monologues and villainous boasting, which are also featured in decent doses in my offering. I had a fun time drawing Beast and Morbius, I admit it. But it's mostly because I was allowed to draw the vintage versions. Big kudos to Aubrey Sitterson for his ambition here...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Horribly Delayed

So sorry for the long wait between posts. I've been working hard on both the third drawing book (this one about Robots), and the Secret Saturdays cartoon, which became much more stressful and problematic once the Department Of Homeland Security refused me entry to the U.S. to oversee the production in person. Despite the fact that I'm not an employee of either Cartoon Network or the production company Porchlight Entertainment, and I was paying my own way down, I was harrassed, fingerprinted, and photographed at the border and a 'flag' was put on my passport preventing me from "trying to enter the States illegally in the future". All this because they felt I needed a work visa. Well why not just say so? I'm still steamed about it, especially since the recent news that our joint 'border security' effort requiring all Canadians and Americans crossing the boarder to show their passports was recently relaxed for Americans. Only Canadians need the extra scutiny, it seems. Sigh... At least I'm not the only one. After my Gitmo experience, I was told a multitude of other stories by fellow Canadians like myself who had been travelling back and forth from the U.S. for many years suddenly finding their rights and livelyhood under attack since the inaugeration of the DHS. Looks like Canadians are no longer welcome in the land of Freedom, folks. Their loss, I say. Unfortunately, the travel ban caused me to miss my seat at the Daytime Emmy Awards where my show TUTENSTEIN won it's second Emmy for Outstanding Special Class Animated Program. My wife had a dress picked out and everything. Oh well, c'est la vie. The production for the Saturdays in full-speed ahead, and looking great. I'll try and make this a bit of a production blog for the show whenever I find the time. Until then, stay spooky!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Farewell to the Main Masher

The man, the myth, the legend that is Bobby 'Boris' Pickett has passed into the big black. Link "He does the "Monster Mash" no more.
Bobby "Boris" Pickett, whose dead-on Boris Karloff impression propelled the Halloween anthem "Monster Mash" to the top of the charts in 1962, making him one of pop music's most enduring one-hit wonders, has died of leukemia. He was 69. Pickett, dubbed "The Guy Lombardo of Halloween," died Wednesday night at the West Los Angeles Veterans Hospital, said his longtime manager, Stuart Hersh. His daughter, Nancy, and his sister, Lynda, were at Pickett's bedside. "Monster Mash" hit the Billboard chart three times: when it debuted in 1962, reaching No. 1 the week before Halloween; again in August 1970, and for a third time in May 1973. The resurrections were appropriate for a song where Pickett gravely intoned the forever-stuck-in-your-head chorus: "He did the monster mash. ... It was a graveyard smash."
He will be forever remembered as the creator of the most famous Halloween song of all time.. and any mad monster creator is an eternal friend of us here at Monsterama. Don't rest too well, Mr. Pickett!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Ogoh Ogoh!

Check out this wicked photo gallery of Ogoh Ogoh Monsters! These creepy and colourful Balinese sculptures are made out of bamboo and paper mache. Most represent traditional creatures from the underworld known as buta-kala, but modern Ogohs may also take on pop culture forms, including media or government personalities.