Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happy Hallowe'en, dear S&P-brains!

It has happened again -- HALLOWE'EN!!!

I hope every one of you are enjoying this, our favorite day and night of the year, in any and every way that is important, meaningful, traditional and right for you.

I have been quite noticeably absent from this ol' homely house, and I apologize... but it seems every time I have tried to get back in here on a regular basis, life hands me another distraction or dilemma.

No complaint, no excuse, just life. You all know how it can be.

I really do hope to be able to be here on  regular basis, because I miss it, and all of you, and it was one of the most beloved 'things' in my life for a good long while. It will be that again, and hopefully sooner than later.

Until then, though, I thought I could be forgiven for re-posting what I feel is one of my better scribblings on the walls of this spooky public house, concerning our blessed, hallowed All Hallow's Eve, from a few years ago. It says what I feel, and I feel like every Hallowe'en is part of the same long, wondrous day and night, like we're just picking up from where we left off the year before. So why should I try to re-word or re-write it?

Enjoy, and celebrate!


It is here.

Our day, and most thrillingly, our Night.

It is the New Year celebration of an ancient world, and an ancient celebration of what has come and gone, what may lie ahead, and what our place will be in whatever comes.

It is the birthday of childhood fears, but the anniversary of casting those fears away, all at once.

Even as it changes with time and tide, it has never disappointed.

It calls us to come out and play again, to talk and laugh and scream and chase and run as the children we still are, will always be, no matter how we try to hide it.

It sets the sun a pumpkin orange, carries leaves on a woodsmoke wind to tap our windows, scratch our memories, to tickle and reawaken our love -- our need -- for the Tall Tale, the Scary Story, the Fright.

It is yours, and it is mine, and it connects us across miles.

It does not teach us to fear -- we already know fear quite well. It doesn't say 'See? Here are horrors you wouldn't know but for Me.'

No. Like all Fantasy, which is itself a child of our darkest primal nights, it does not teach children that there are dragons. They already know that.

                                             It just shows us all that dragons can be slain.

It is our secret satisfaction at the puzzle unsolved, our continuous joy at the Great Mystery, for it is the stating and confronting of our most primal fear... and because it is the facing of our own death, it boldly and blessedly reminds us to live while we are alive.

                                         It is Hallowe'en.

It is today, and tonight. God, what a gift.

The Skull & Pumpkin wishes all of you a meaningful, magical, 
and mystical Hallowe'en, wherever you may be.

A toast, raise them up high now:


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Hallowe'en Tree-t.

NO, not 'treaty', but treat!

And an incredible tree-t it is.

Now I've mentioned more than a few times over the years that I am an ardent admirer of Ray Bradbury, and of the work of his longest/greatest illustrating collaborator, Joseph Mugnaini. Surely anyone who has been around here for any decent length of time should know this.

Another name I've mentioned more than a few times is Shellhawk.

Beyond being 'one of us'-- a truly insane Hallowe'en Kid -- Shell is a fine potter, sculptor, painter, a real artisan, and she fills you in on her work and her life over at one the S&P's longest friend-blogs, Shellhawk's Nest, as well as proudly plies and trades in her craft at her Etsy store, Shellhawk's Creations. 

I have enjoyed her work and her friendship for years, being the proud owner of one of her famous Mini-boo figures, as well as one of her even more famous Jack O'Lanterns of unique, one of a kind designs.

I was also quite proud to be asked to contribute to one of her blog's wonderful themed guest-blogger series in 2012. You can read my entry as well as find the rest of the series here.


I have just been the recipient of a beautiful, serendipitous melding of Bradbury, Mugnaini, and Shellhawk, in one incredible labor of love that found its way to the ol' S&P, to take its place among the spooky detritus adorning the place...

What is it? Are you actually asking that?

It is a hand-painted, glazed, fired platter from the skilled hand and temperamental kiln of Shellhawk herself, depicting the perfect Joseph Mugnaini illustration of Ray Bradbury's beloved, enduring literary invention, The Hallowe'en Tree.

See for yourself -- the vintage Mugnaini original:

... and Shellhawk's beautiful tribute work:

Not that even Mugnaini himself could reproduce it stroke-for-stroke. For one thing, like an improvising jazz musician, you can't play the same genius solo twice.

For another thing, he's dead. Just sayin'.

Of course, being from Shellhawk, no one piece is ever delivered to its recipient all by its lonesome-if-gorgeous self...

Yes -- a black spiderweb with a rubber spider, two Hallowe'en pencils
(bats and pumpkins!) and a little jar of green slime! Bravo!

But this...

... is an orange and black dream on a plate.

I am just so very, very proud to be the keeper of this incredible piece of artistic Hallowe'en love. It will forever grace the S&P, reminding those whose eyes it catches to read more Bradbury, love more Hallowe'en, and keep and enjoy good friends.

A toast, to Shellhawk, to Mugnaini, and to Ray Bradbury...


My deepest thanks, Shell.

Everyone else... GO to her blog and her store, will ya?


Thursday, April 24, 2014

A post of a different color.

So... onward!

During my time on sabbatical from this homely house of Hallowe'en hijinks, I found myself needing quite often to simply relaaaaaax.

Among the various distractions I have been enjoying lately, one of the greatest and most enjoyable has been a rediscovery of one of greatest joys of my young, creative Monsterkid days...


Now, waaaaay back in December 2009, I posted about how spoiled I was as a kid (speaking facetiously -- we were broke!) and in that long post, I mentioned the incredible coloring albums Monster Gallery and Science Fiction Anthology (both Troubadour Press, 1974) and how we adored coloring those books with real markers of a zillion hues, under our artist mother's supervision (which, I hasten to add, was not in any way about how we colored -- we were free to go crazy -- but only about keeping our kid hands, faces and clothes as 'unmarkered' as possible).

Well, sometime last Fall, I was proud and excited to be the recipient of a pristine 1974 edition of Monster Gallery (above). Now, I was never going to color it, to keep it pristine -- this and its twin sister Science Fiction Anthology command high prices nowadays. However... what I didn't know was that all the coloring illustrations in that book (by the marvelous Mark Savee) were reproduced, in fact the entire Monster Gallery book was reprinted/reissued in the early '90s as simply Monsters. And a pristine copy of that book came along with the original book! Surprise!

So I found myself  with a clean original to keep clean... and a real, heavy-card stock over-sized page Monster Gallery -- just under a different title! -- that I could color!!!

I made an excited trip to the craft store for a good set of 'real markers of a zillion hues', just like those we used 35 years ago.

And I began to color, for the first time as a grown up kid, all the pictures I'd never finished or colored all that nicely the first time around.

 I was so happy to finally color the Phantom 
a bit like the cover art -- I was never able to
as a kid, I didn't have the skill yet, and 
certainly didn't have the patience!

And of course, I finally got to really do my best
on one of my all-time favorite movie monsters, the Fly! 
I so enjoyed doing the eyes like I'd wanted so long ago 
but never could accomplish!

About halfway through the process of coloring all of the book -- I relaxed at night, and each picture took about three nights as I took my time to do it as best as I could, as a kind of loyalty to my younger self's wishes from long ago -- I had occasion to visit relatives in Los Angeles, and I took my Monsters book and markers with me, of course.

And my godson, my nephew Young Will, introduced me to a little bit of artistical paradise called brush markers

And my life changed.

These little art store treasures act like good watercolor brushes, with either water or alcohol based inks and an ability to blend and... oh! the desire to just work with them became an addiction, so smooth and satisfying did they perform their task!

I began hunting the internet for good monstery, Hallowe'eny coloring pages to print up on card stock and keep using those damned addicting brush markers!

I also discovered that Science Fiction Anthology is nearly impossible to find in clean shape for under $100, but lots of wonderful Monsterkids have posted good resolution coloring pages (again from Mark Savee) from the entire book online, and I've finally been able to color all of that book as well, something I was never able to do as a kid, but so desperately wished I could.

Frank Herbert's Dune, a real treat to color
with good brush markers to blend. Vivid and bold!

H.G. Wells' First Men In The Moon
Again, brush markers allow one to really
play with tone and shade.

And my favorite, Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles.
For some reason, this one haunted me as a child, as the book
did then and now. I enjoyed coloring this so much I stretched
it out over a whole week of nights.

Of course, I have certainly found plenty of
other wondrously wicked b/w illustrations to use
as coloring pages, from all over the 'net.

A sampling...

 I do not know the artist of this coloring page, but
I so enjoyed coloring it, I've done it in different 
colors twice since this one was done!

 This Phantom as the Red Death is from a
wonderfully weird coloring book from the UK
in the 1970s, just called Horror.

 This and the next were taken from an awesome, very
collectable coloring album called 
Berni Wrightson's Monsters (Seuling, 1974). 
I never had it as a child, but wanted it then, and
it has been so wonderful to be able to just print them
up and use those amazing brush markers to make
them come to life! Look at the blending and
shading one can accomplish!

So listen, Monsterkids.

Get yourselves a set of brush markers, some card stock, and a good printer, and go online to search 'til your heart's content! 

It has been a true return to something I so dearly loved as a kid and hadn't done in decades.

And when you're finished, you will have some works of spooky, monstery art of which you can be quite proud.

In fact, I think I need to print something up for tonight...

It's nice to be back, dear S&Pbrains. Thank you for hanging in there with me, and for coming back to the ol' pub.

I promise to bring it back to life.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

It's been a long, long time...

... and I am sorry for the absence.

I have been living. Sometimes not so easily, but living my life... and finding time, and often even the inclination, to post here has been very sketchy for a good long while now.

I miss it. I miss all of you, who I am sure have given up and moved on to other Hallowe'en pubs... if, y'know, there are any other Hallowe'en pubs in the October Country...

I am alive and well, for the most part, and ready to return on a more regular basis. I am truly hoping to make it up to all of you who used to enjoy and visit frequently.

The Skull & Pumpkin will reopen soon.

Your humble pubkeep says so... it must be so.

I appreciate your patience, and your kind fellowship in this All Hallow's world of crazy Monsterkids here in the October Country.

Lest I forget...  say it with me now, and raise your glass high...

To the return of the S&P, as soon as can be...