As we lounge around in the lazy glow between Christmas and New Year's Eve, we still dwell happily on those moments, memories, and materials that brought us to our Hallowe'en sensibilities.
Well, at least I am, anyway.
The previous post showed a lot of things that have made me who I am, and here's another influence I'd like to spend a bit more time detailing.
Christmas of 1977 was joyously full of the very first Star Wars toys (and clothes and bedsets and books, etc.) but one gift really made an immediate and lasting impact on my creative mind.
Published by Troubador Books in 1977, Larry Evans' How To Draw Monsters didn't begin my interest in All Things Monster -- I was simply born with that -- but when it came to bringing my own monsterific ideas to life, it was easily the best and most inspiring of teachers.
I spent untold hours poring over (and copying scribble for scribble) the images in this little book.
Kley's sketchy visions are so full of energy and spirit.
How could a Hallowe'en Lovin' Monster Kid not just stare at and delight in trying to copy this stuff?
Man! The detail in that eye still impresses me.
At nine years old, my favorite drawings and tutorials were about the bugs:
The Brazilian Tree Hopper really looks like this. Change the scale and you've got a real monster!
Oh, I drew this army ant dozens of times in school. Not as assignments, of course, but instead of them.
For the next two, I apologize in advance to a certain "amphibious royalty" who frequents the S&P:
These two spider pages (featuring a garden orbweaver, a black widow and a tarantula) were great
for scaring pesky siblings and schoolmates away from my drawing table.
But my favorite image in the entire book resides in gorgeous full color on the back cover:
Larry Evans' incredible watercolor piece Night of the Werewolf made me not only want to draw monsters, but color them right as well.
There are chapters on space creatures, reptilian creatures, and technical lessons about perspective and proportion... and how to break all those rules to make your own monstrous creations!
I still have my original 1977 copy of the book (from which all of these images are taken) and I still find it inspiring.
I also find it very nostalgic to peruse its pages and recall a nine-, ten-, a twelve year old me on the floor or at the table, scribbling away, learning, creating... just delighting.
As far as I can find out, Larry Evans is still around. I'd like to meet him one day, just to shake his hand and thank him for teaching me so many things about making monsters.
... of why I love what I love, and the things that contributed to my Hallowe'enishness, to the grooming of yours truly into a bona fide, living-dyed in the wool Autumn Person.
You might share some of these memories with me.
This isn't everything that influenced me -- that may have to come in another post -- but they sure began the long, wonderful road.
An L.A. Dodgers AM Radio from the '70s?
Yep. It features near the end of a remarkable Hallowe'en story from my very young days; a Hallowe'en in my seventh year that I nearly missed, and yet... well, I think I've found a good tale for another post.
Until then, enjoy your long Winter's nap, each of you. A warming round on the house.
... and while empty seats might normally seem undesirable at a good pub like the ol' S&P, the empty chair in this case is that foreseen by the blustery, ebullient giant Ghost of Christmas Present, and that bodes well for us.
Oh yes indeed, this is a Hallowe'en place, made and maintained by the loving hands of a Hallowe'en fanatic, frequented and made lively by the spirits of you good, spooky Hallowe'en folk.
But as That Other Holiday necessarily fills our time and 'tentions, it's good to find some Hallowtide in the Yuletide.
And what could be better, more fitting, more classic than Charles Dickens' ghostly masterpiece?
John Leech illustration from an 1843 edition.
I will not go into everything about the tale, and why should I? We've all read, seen, heard a thousand variations and interpretations of the story. Most of us have probably been involved in a school play or dramatic reading at some point in our younger lives.
There's no need for a set up, except to say that this post really ought to be an 'Old Tubes' post, because as sure as I began pondering it, the old Hallowe'enith console radio began to sputter and hum, and lo! there's a new bit of ear-candy for us!
First aired on Christmas Eve, 1975, the CBS Radio Mystery Theatre's A Christmas Carol featured it's longtime host, the great E.G. Marshall, as Ebenezer Scrooge.
Of course, I like to think that as he was reading his lines, he looked less like this:
and more like this:
... only without the cockroaches. This look is just way more Ebenezer Scrooge-like.
(Y'know, typing Ebenezer is kind of difficult. Like saying 'toy boat' five times. Try it).
CBS aired this radio goodness every year on or near December 24th for a decade or more. I know I heard it at least two of those years -- the entire family listened the AM radio in our old station wagon as we drove home from Grandma's house on Christmas Eve.
So head to the ol' Hallowe'enith radio over there to your left, and give a listen.
More piratey, raveny, quartetly video goodness from the 2010 Graveyard, at the request of loyal S&P pubgoer, Robbie.
But before we quite get to it (Fester can you dust off the screen please? Thanks, I'll get everyone another round... oh where are those mixed nuts?).
As I was saying, before we get to it I want to give the littlest bit of an explanation for anyone who might not get the joke here (if you already do, just jump to the video with my apologies. Here's some Chex mix).
I saw looks of utter bafflement on most of our guests' faces over Hallowe'en during this sketch; but I saw very fine smiles of recognition and amusement in some faces.
I think a little exposition might help you find your way into the latter group.
See, there's this really infamous recording that's been floating around the world since the '70s, of the great Orson Welles suffering a disdainful, self-important and hilarious meltdown during a recording session for various food products.
The whole story (so far as is known) behind the incident can be read here, and (most of) the original recording here. You should probably take five minutes and familiarize yourself with the hilarity.
Remember too, that this was not the magnificently brilliant bastard of his glory days:
... when he looked a little like me, actually.
No, this was quite a bit later, when he was this bastard -- though still brilliant and utterly mad:
I sure hope to not look even a little like that.
Okay, so this 'Orson Welles Tape', or 'Frozen Peas Tape' has been memorialized in pop media in numerous references over the years, most notably in a fantastically accurate (if cleaned up for cartoon-watching kids) and hip episode of Pinky & The Brain.
Well(es), since I'd already recorded the Raven's 'Welles-ish' voice for other routines, I thought a meager, shortened reference of my own couldn't hurt anything.
Ladies and gentlemen (and whatever else you are), I present the Pirates, Nevermore the Raven, and the Lean Bros. & Ghoul in
The Headless Orson!
I regret not using "always -- p-past that!" and "Yyesss!" from the original... but there are more Hallowe'ens to come -- I don't want to use it all up for a single display.
By the way, that's Kay Starr singing with Billy Butterfield's band in 1949.