Monday, August 30, 2010

Making Hallowe'en pt. 3

Poe, paints, pictures.

Added whites and highlights to Miss Madeline Usher this afternoon.

I love the cartoonish, Blaine Gibson/Disney caricature look. The jaw, the brows/cheekbones, the teeth, nothing is in proportion, but its unrealism is what makes it alive, you know?

I thought a blue light might look neat too:

Another angle:
I had to add some dreary bloodshotedness (at one time not a real word, but now it is) to her eyes.
I think when the basic black and white figure/set is done, the red tinge of the eyes
might draw the viewer's, um... vision.
Besides, something about the way I made the eyes causes me a giggle.
I hadn't planned on it, of course, and it's not exactly the same, but there's an odd similarity:

Not exactly a doppelganger, but then again if it was, I'd have to make a figure
for William Wilson, and then I'd really have too much to make before the Big Night.

Such droopy eyes, 

As if they were made of



Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley
August 30, 1797 -- February 1, 1851

Among her other accomplishments, we can surely agree here that 
the Horror and Hallowe'en cultures would not be what they are
but for her creations -- 
creations which became not only icons, but archetypes.
Chevalier's frontispiece from the 1831 edition, considered the definitive printing.

Man-made monsters, mad scientists playing God, neglecting what
we create and what we are given, the agonies and mysteries 
of birth, life, death, sex, vengeance, sin not just coming 
home to roost but pursuing the sinner across the world...
and above all, the tough simplicity of personal responsibility.

Not a bad little tale for an 18 year old girl.

Happy birthday.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Making Hallowe'en pt. 2

Hey there loyal patrons! Long time no see.

Nah, don't get up.

I am happy to report that today, after a fairly busy week, I finally had a chance to get back to some Hallowe'en creationising -- you guessed it, that means more Poe-fixins.

In particular, Poeheads.

First up, I wanted to give the Red Death a little red eye:

Gloss enamels. A little red, a littler bit of yellow ochre. I think it makes him look much cooler, a little more alive (that's irony for you) and softens the impact of the unlidded eye (like you mentioned, Fester). 

Then, I realized I'd been neglecting to get started on one of the neatest images from that amazing dream I had back in July. 

Ladies and gents, I give you the sickly sister of one Roderick Usher... Miss Madeline:

Looks a bit like a sick Larraine Newman, right? Well, sicker.

I think she will be in a doorway, cerements of the grave in tatters around her, hair billowing upwards, arms out, hands damaged from clawing her way out of her tomb -- in stark, strobing black and white.

Might be very impactful.

I have to wait for the accessories that will eventually make her look like a her, but for now it's all in the painting and the drying.

Here I've washed in all my blacks and greys. I'll add whites and all highlights next.
Just you wait.
Oh, took this one picture and thought the skulls above her head were cool:

Oh, the horror!

Next step for Miss Madeline, whites and wig.

Next project... the Raven!

My animatronic figure Raven, not the poem.

That is yet another project -- a daring move for one Uncle Forry

Stay tuned.

Oh, and for some weird reason, today's crafting didn't require 


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Just want to mention...

... that at this point no one has been able to figure out the Hallowe'en butterfly yet. Some of the greatest Hallowe'en minds of our age are stymied, baffled by the illogic of the All Hallow's Lepidoptera on display in the previous post.

In case you might have, in the throes of embafflement, forgotten what it really is:

All suggestions are welcome, all ideas entertained.

A butterfly. For Hallowe'en.



Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Young Will's Hallowe'en Spree, pt. 1

Come in, come in, I have tons of pictures to pass around while we relax tonight.

Oh, we could use some tunes. Mr. Chicken, could you hit the jukebox for us? There, thank you kindly.

(Attaboy, Luther!)

I always wonder where that guy's shouting from...

Anyway, this afternoon I had occasion to run a few errands and spend some quality time with my nephew (and Godson), Young Will. No, that's not a joke Chinese name, it's just what I call him. A fine, proper, colonial-type-address for a fine young man.

Well... since it's late August, wouldn't you know it? HALLOWE'EN STUFF is starting to appear!

Now, any halfway respectable Hallowe'en blog is going to be posting pictures and reviews of the year's new crop of goodies (it's what we love!). However, I realize most of us will be hitting most of the same places.

I know we all love seeing and reading each others' All Hallow's shopping adventures, to be sure.
But I don't want to just rehash what others have already done, covering ground others will likely have already covered (and probably better).

Yet I realize one thing I have that no one else does.

Young Will.

So to help me review, display and enjoy the spooky store stuff this All Hallow's Shopping Season, I have engaged the services of my nephew, who is more than happy to oblige. Eager, even.

Today, we were at Michaels.

It started with over-sized glasses. It always does.

Then, the rest of the felt and foam half-mask menagerie:
The vampire makes him look a bit like Emeril. Or Corey Feldman.

Is it a ghost smiling? Or a ghost with a Snidely Whiplash mustache?

Then, Young Will and I marveled at the phrase --
Melty Beads! 
It rolls off the tongue. It conjures thoughts of... well, melting beads.
Even in French.

Young Will then began to giggle at a set of erasers:
"Is the blood really necessary?"
"Why, d'you think it's too gory?"
"No -- it's just that those teeth couldn't possibly draw blood."
He's a funny little man, Young Will.

In the paper crafts section, he donned this mask (he donned of the dead?):
All I could think of was that great episode of The Twilight Zone... you know the one.

So, the talk turned to skulls.
Without a doubt one of the worst foam skulls ever, especially for $6. 
Young Will was unsure as well:
But in the end he decided it suited him fine.
Until he found the skull he really loved:

Of course, there are hundreds of other Hallowe'en 'boo'-dads at Michaels, and Young Will took his time exploring and wondering.

Somehow, this terrifyingly purple, horrifyingly shimmery feline made a bed of
Young Will's head. This caused our hero no end of bemusement.

A less welcome bit of fluffy danger made itself known, but didn't actually cause more than a momentary lapse of Hallowe'en bravery -- happens to the best of us.

The spider subdued, Young Will set his sight skyward, whereupon a circling omen of brooding doom descended to his shoulder. It was not singing about baby bumble bees (and I was so hoping).

Then suddenly:
... the vulture was replaced by a giant, thrashing vampire bat!
I would've thought it a fruit bat or simple insectivore, but look at those teeth. 
The bat's, not Young Will's.

His nerves shaken, the boy turns his attention to the smaller, cuter fauna of the October Country...
 ... thinking them to be safer, kinder, cuddlier.

But then:
... a seemingly harmless arachnid speared his pipe-cleaner fangs into Young Will's all-too-unwary finger!

For a moment, I beheld in his countenance an odd unease, a behavior unbidden, an omen of the madness that would soon overtake him.
Glittery garland, the broom, and that face. I was fearful for his sanity.

Then, for a short moment, all seemed as before... until he saw it.

The Butterfly.
He stared. 
Heck, I stared.
A butterfly. 
A Hallowe'en butterfly.
A black butterfly. 
For Hallowe'en. 
A black Hallowe'en butterfly with an orange glitter spider web on it.
A glittery orange spider-webbed black butterfly.
For Hallowe'en.



I didn't know what to think. My mind was racing to scour some path through the well-worn detritus of my experience, trying to forge some answer to this imponderable without losing my grip on reality.

 I held fast, and the spasm left me.

You see, I was old enough. 
I had been through the age of Ben Cooper's Rubik's Cube, Asteroids, 
Gabe Kaplan and Chuck Barris costumes for children.
I had been through school plays about pink ghosts.
I had missed a Hallowe'en because of chicken pox.
I had been through this and more and lived, my mind intact.

But poor Young Will?

His sense of the world crumbled in his first musing...
... and he finally, bafflingly, dizzyingly lost his mind.
In chains, I had to lead him out of the store and to a magazine rack where awaited to soothe his broken mind titles like Yu-Gi-Oh, Shonen Jump, and RPG cards. He sighed and smiled.

He is alright. 

For now.

Please be sure to visit over this Hallowe'en shopping season. Young Will, once he's fully recovered, will be on hand for each and every one of our adventures.

You don't really want to miss any of it, do you?

Especially if you don't want me to torture you with...


Monday, August 23, 2010

Making Hallowe'en.

Hello pubgoers!

I certainly hope you've all had a nice Sunday relaxing, staying cool, and hopefully reading a Bradbury tale or two in honor of the man's 90th.

This evening I've been listening to some audiobooks, stories of Bradbury read by the one and only Leonard Nimoy.

And I figured while I was doing that, I ought to catch up on some Hallowe'en work that had been put on the backburner while I was enjoying family time last week.

So, without further ado (but with modeling compounds, acrylics, hot glue and wig heads) I give you a few Poe-fixins.

From The Masque of the Red Death:
"Blood was its avatar and its seal -- the redness and the horror of blood... the scarlet stains upon the body and especially upon the face of the victim, were the pest ban which shut him out from the aid and from the sympathy of his fellow-men."

"His vesture was dabbled in blood -- and his broad brow, with all the 
features of his face, was besprinkled with the scarlet horror."
Yes, his eyes may seem too bright and alive at the moment, but I can make them dull and bloodshot. On the other hand, having them be that vivid might be best under a hood and in dim light. Hhhmmm...

And from The Black Cat:
"I withdrew my arm from her grasp and buried the axe in her brain."
Come the Big Night, she'll be behind a half-torn brick wall with a one-eyed black cat named Pluto on her shoulder, that dark gash occupied by an axe -- that is, unless I find the whole image to be a little too horrific for the kids...
Nah, who'm I fooling? The Dawn of the Dead zombies of '08 were no less horrific, and what the hell -- it's Poe and it's Hallowe'en night!


Sunday, August 22, 2010

90 years, metaphorically speaking.

Well, metaphorically writing.

The library here at the S&P is filled wall to ceiling with shelves bending and groaning under the weight of the world's best horrific, speculative, fantastic and above all Hallowe'enish bits of prose and poetry, news articles, reviews and interviews (another of those is coming soon, in fact).

That set of shelves over there by the model flying machine, just below the grinning jack o'lantern watercolor that looks a bit like the planet Mars... that is our collection of the works of Ray Bradbury -- the master of metaphor and the mundane-become-magic, who this very day is celebrating his 90th birthday!
Sure, you could say he looks it. I am certain he feels it.

But of course, remaining a child is impossible. Staying childlike is a choice, full of passion and love, and his life's work is bursting at the seams with them.

His heart, for all its pumping and breaking and mending and singing these long years, has remained childlike.

He's taught so many to do the same. I plan on drinking his elixir forever. It's already done me so much good.

Of the October Country where many of us reside, there is much which would be unmapped, unexplored, locked to our searching but for Bradbury and his childlike wonder and humor. It might not even have a name.

Many of us, I suspect, would not have found that far off Autumn land without his stories opening our children eyes, taking our children hands and leading the way -- with a wink, a shiver, and a metaphoric lesson we wouldn't fully grasp until we were no longer children.

What, after all, would Hallowe'en be without some of the ol' Bradbury magic?

The Hallowe'en Tree, painted by the author in 1960

90 years within which to create at least 7 decades years of metaphor, of gushing love, emotional wreckage, tearful joy, stone-faced sorrow, skulls, pumpkins, gods, devils, rockets, old planets, dark carnivals, cloudy jars, killer infants, flying uncles, burning books, illustrated men, dandelion wine, and always something wicked just over the rise, coming our way, coming, coming...

Happy Ninetieth birthday, Mr. Bradbury. Here's to seeing another Hallowe'en this October, and to all the Octobers you've given the world to read and feel forever.

A toast-


Monday, August 16, 2010

Pull de stringk!

I'm sorry I haven't been around lately -- we are visiting family and friends, and free wi-fi is not easy to find down here -- but I hope you've been visiting, reading, listening, enjoying the ol' place. I have been enjoying my family time.

I will be back soon, but I did not want today to pass by without marking the occasion.

You know the occasion, right? Of course you do. You've had it marked on your calendar since you were a kid.

The 54th anniversary of the death of Bela Lugosi.

 Bela Ferenc Dezso Blasko
October 20, 1882 -- August 16, 1956

There are a handful of legendary actors whose names are forever engraved in our collective cultural conscience as the unquestionable iconic heroes of horror cinema. Karloff, Chaney Sr., Chaney Jr., Price, Lorre... Lugosi.

They're not the only names in classic horror, but these are the Big Guys.

I can't put them in any order that feels right to me -- each of those names could rightfully sit atop that short list -- but of those names, it is inarguable that Lugosi's is the one that most embodies suavity, smoothness, mystery, elegant Old World charm... and a diabolical sensuality that makes women swoon.

Did I say Old World? I meant Otherworldly.

A toast... to Bela. King of the Vampires, icon of horror, actor, gentleman.

Oh, by the way... this is the Skull & Pumpkin's 250th post.

I think it's fitting.

Another by the way, please read Fester's insights on Lugosi in the comments below. Informative and wonderful stuff that puts some perspective on his early life and the odds stacked against him. It's remarkable that to this day almost everyone, even younger folks who have never even seen one of his films, can tell you who he is, or at least say "Oh, that's Dracula!".

Lugosi lives.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Maxfield Scare-ish.

I had to show you this.

The haphazard gallery that is the wonderful artwork adorning the walls of the Skull & Pumpkin has grown by one today.

An incredible poster -- a belated birthday gift from my brother and his wife:

This brilliant piece was created by one Madame Talbot. Her amazing works and other odd, dark, gothicky things can be found by clicking her name.

A beaut. And much needed in this humid heat... Fall, save us!

Thanks so much, Cathcarts.