Archive for July, 2009

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Tribute to Famous Monsters of Filmland

July 25, 2009

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“I am eleven and a half years old and I am your reader – Forrest Ackerman, make me laff.” [sic] So, begins an article from the august 1973 100th magazine issue of “Famous Monsters of Filmland” produced by the great Forrest J. Ackerman, which he ran from 1958 to 1983. Although, slightly older than 11 ½ at the time, I was very much a member of his target audience, and owe a large debt to him for his efforts at getting this material into my young and impressionable hands, much to my mother’s dismay. Fortunately for me, my dad enjoyed them almost as much as I did.

Magazine collection

Magazine collection

As you can see here, I have a couple shoeboxes containing 53 issues of original purchases. Each one is packed with photos from his massive personal collection of loved and forgotten films of horror and fantasy. They gave me laughter, and wonder and inspiration for many years to come. I’ve seen the other reincarnations of this magazine and others like it over the years, but hand me a faded brittle old newsprint copy of FM and see a tear of joy roll down my crusty cheek.

Mad Love

Mad Love

Artistically, what inspired me tremendously as a child was the graphic quality of the printed images in each issue, such as this photo of Peter Lorre from the film “Mad Love.” The high contrast and often slightly overexposed prints had a powerful affect on me and my developing style of drawing. Many of these were from a period of post-expressionist films and early film-noir that fed the work of other graphic artists who had been in print for awhile by this time; mostly found in the old EC comics, but also on pulp magazines covers or interior spots. I ate it all up, not just for the taboo quality of the imagery, but their visual power. For a young kid learning how to draw in ink, these were the ideal reference materials, and many of my copies haven’t survived well from all that rough handling.

Painted cover

Painted cover

Look at these two images scanned from this 100th issue showing Hurd Hatfield in “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” The one on the left is an uncredited Basil Gogos painting, and on the right is the publicity photo he was undoubtedly given from Ackerman’s archives to use for the magazine cover. As a child I would use these pictures to create my own artwork; although, not nearly as nicely done, and it never dawned on me to use color. All the great horror films are in black and white. I’ll try and hunt down any of those drawings I may have buried in storage, if they still exist. They’ll be awful, but in a charming sort of way.

Forrest J. Ackerman passed away in December of 2008, but has left behind a great legacy. Rest in peace, sir. You will always be remembered.

Useful Links:
Obit
Basil Gogos
Autobiography by F.J. Ackerman

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More Sketches

July 24, 2009

Here are a few recent sketches, all in pencil, each approximately 8×10 inches.

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NASA Restores Moonlanding Footage

July 17, 2009

Here’s a musing that’s somewhat off the art track this time around, but it’s slightly akin to my feelings on the restorations of works of art. NASA is celebrating the 4oth anniversary of the landing on the moon on July 20th, 1969, and has been involved in restoring the video footage taken of the actual event. I’ve been having mixed feelings about it. I actually prefer the old stuff.

Original footage

Original footage

Restored example

Restored example

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t want to go anywhere near a silly conversation about whether or not the landing actually took place. Of course it did. Buzz Aldrin is not that good of an actor. Nonetheless, it calls into question how much of it is being manipulated which just makes the conspiracy theories all the more clamorous.

In my mind I prefer the original vague ghostly images instead of the enhanced details. It reminds me of the fact that I’m looking at a dated marvel of the historical record of technology itself, not to mention the super-human effort that went into getting us there in the first place.

Think of what video cameras were like in 1969, what it took to put one on the moon, and what it took just to transmit a signal across this planet not to mention across over 200, 000 miles of space.  On top of that is television technology itself, and sets around the world that allowed humanity to witness this event unfolding. I was there with them in 1969, and I still get a thrill thinking about it. What I want to see now is exactly what I saw then, not worse but also not better. Next thing you know, we’ll get The Honeymooners in Hi-Def. Not for me, thanks. “To the moon, Alice!”

Links:
NASA footage
Associated Press article about restoration

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Painting “Closing The Deal” Update 3

July 12, 2009

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I’ve now got all the main areas covered in this latest painting. The window needs to be cleaned up, and some adjustments are needed in values here and there.

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Painting “Closing The Deal” Update 2

July 8, 2009

No, I haven’t forgotten about this new painting, but I thought I’d better prove that I have been sneaking in some time on it between other chores. Here’s the latest update.

Painting progressing

Painting progressing

You’ll likely notice in comparison to the earlier posts that I’ve cropped some of the sky area. It just seemed like a waste of paint, so I chopped off about 4 inches from the top. The sky will need some more smoothing out, but I’ll wait until after I get the rest of the background in. Those blinds are making it tough going, but I like a good challenge.

Detail

Detail