As noted in previous features, 2014 marks the Sweet Sixteenth year Mezco Toyz’ Living Dead Dolls have graced the planet. The continuing collection of creepy creations was conceived by Ed Long, Damian Glonek, and Mez Markowitz, who have thus far unleashed 28 multiple doll series encompassing every hobgoblin imaginable. The company has conjured up several interesting ways to pay tribute to the monstrous muñecas this year, including a “time capsule coffin” event, and the LDD party continues with the publication of The Art of Living Dead Dolls.
Over the years Mezco’s putrid progeny have found a home in the hearts of many talented artists and the new book showcases their LDD inspired works. An impressive list of over 100 artists share their unique views of the LDD universe across the book’s 80 pages. The wide array of styles and varied media (oils, gouache and acrylics, to pen and ink, screen print, and digital) produce a visually arresting experience for the reader.
There’s plenty here to peruse and enjoy. I’m currently enamored with Louis Russomanno’s graveyard as schoolyard scene, Emily Yoshizawa’s LDD populated doll house, Becky Bray’s “Rain,” and Chris Garafalo’s Calavera print.
Also featured are photos from the Mezco’s 2006 Living Dead Dolls Art Show, in which participants transformed the dolls into their own hellish visions. There are lots of striking manipulations (mutilations?) including Damien, Mez and Ed’s own iconoclastic dioramas, but it was Randy Falk’s King Diamond LDD remake that made me laugh out loud.
The softbound first edition has an embossed cover which adds a nice touch of depth to Joshua Hoffine’s backwoods at witching hour tableau. The interior color is vibrant and saturated and art reproduction is ace. The book’s foreword is fittingly offered by artist Basil Gogos whose cover paintings for the original Famous Monsters of Filmland magazines virtually invented the modern monster art field.
In my experience fans are always in the forefront of Mezco’s doings and they aren’t left out here. Rounding out the book is a full section of art from fans of all ages, as well as a tattoo chapter chronicling the body art of those who have dedicated a stretch of their own flesh to the Living Dead Doll phenomenon.
Mezco will further furnish fans with an exceptional opportunity built around the 2014 NYCC Superweek. On October 10th @ 8PM they will invade their favorite haunt, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Odditorium, for a signing by the LDD team and select artists represented in the book.
Mezco says, “One of the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Times Square Odditorium rooms will be sealed off and transformed into a haven for Living Dead Dolls fans. On display will be an assortment of rare and one of a kind Living Dead Dolls artifacts direct from the Mezco archives. Many of these items have never been seen by the public, and a select number of them will be available for purchase, including hand painted prototypes, and concept art.
The first 200 attendees will each receive a free Living Dead Doll themed goodie bag plus a chance to win a test shot set of Living Dead Dolls Series 28 dolls. Test shot sets are seldom released to the public, making this a rare chance for a fan to acquire one of the most sought after collectibles in the Living Dead Dolls universe.
Each of the 200 goodie bags will contain a set of special limited edition art prints available only at the event along with carefully curated selection of other Mezco and Living Dead Doll themed items.”
Dark Horse Comics declares March 22, 2014 Hellboy Day, with a series of world-wide in-store appearances by some of the celebrated franchise’s artists and writers. The event commemorates the first appearance of the red rascal 20 years ago in a 4 page story printed in San Diego Comic Con Comics #2. Series creator Mike Mignola will appear at Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles, information on other events from Portland to Brazil are listed below.
Dark Horse notes that attendees can expect “a slew of exclusive giveaways” and “an all-new sampler comic featuring two classic Mignola tales, “The Ghoul” and “Another Day at the Office,” as well as two new stories by Mignola, Fábio Moon, and R. Sikoryak!”
To further mark the achievement Hellboy: The First 20 Years, an oversized deluxe hardcover presenting Mignola’s art and curated by the artist himself, will be released to comic shops everywhere on March 19th. The bulk of the book presents gallery style pages of Mignola’s cover art minus the logos or text embellishments.
Mignola’s fearless use of dark space and negative areas has become a hallmark of his style. His distillation of detail down to the extremes of light and dark leaves only the most important visual information in the finished piece. Works like the front cover variant for B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Long Death #1 (page 113) are exercises in simplicity with the artist challenging himself to see how few lines can be used to effectively tell the story.
In the book’s forward Mignola notes how he prefers this evolution in his art, the stripping away of any superfluous embellishment, which makes the smattering of early work seen in this volume now appear overwrought. In many cases original art is juxtaposed with finished work and it becomes clear how colorist Dave Stewart’s use of distinct chromatic blocks adds to the austerity of Mignola’s line work.
1.Mike Mignola—Meltdown Comics—Los Angeles, CA
7522 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90046?(323) 851-7223
2. Tyler Crook, Dave Stewart & Scott Allie—TFAW—Portland, OR
7 p.m.–10 p.m.
Things From Another World—Portland Location
2916 NE Broadway Street?Portland, OR 97232?(503) 284-4693
3. Duncan Fegredo, Laurence Campbell & Mick McMahon—Gosh! Comics—London, England
2 p.m.–4 p.m.
1 Berwick Street?London W1F 0DR
+44 20 7636 1011
4. Art Baltazar—Aw Yeah Comics—Skokie, IL
Aw Yeah Comics
4933 Oakton Street
Skokie, IL 60077
Facebook Event Page:
5. Franco Aureliani—Midtown Comics—New York, NY
2 p.m.–4 p.m.
Midtown Comics—Downtown Location
64 Fulton Street
New York, NY 10038?(212) 302-8192
6. Tonci Zonjic—The Beguiling—Toronto, ON, Canada
2 p.m.–4 p.m.
The Beguiling Books & Art
601 Markham Street
Toronto, ON M6G 2L7
7. Sebastián & Max Fiumara—Moebius Liceo—Buenos Aires, Argentina
5 p.m.–10 p.m.
Av. Santa Fe 2729
Local 13 P. Baja
1425 Buenos Aires
+54 11 4866 6960
8. Fábio Moon—Quanta Academia de Artes—São Paulo, Brazil
Quanta Academia de Artes
Rua Dr. José de Queirós Aranha, 246
São Paulo 04106-061
+55 11 3214-0553
The Fifth Beatle
Author: Vivek J. Tiwary
Illustration: Andrew C. Robinson with Kyle Baker
Dark Horse Publications
Release Date: November 19, 2013
Plenty of Jam Jars For You…
There is a plethora of Beatles related items calling for your attention this season, from Apple’s second edition of their recordings for BBC broadcast to Kevin Howlett’s archive book on the same subject. There’s the first installment of Mark Lewisohn’s three part behemoth of Beatle-philia, and the lighthearted documentary film Good Ol’ Freda highlighting the group’s still coy and effervescent fan club president Freda Kelly. Along with these, in what might seem at first an unlikely medium, is Dark Horse’s The Fifth Beatle, a graphic novel rumination on the life of Beatles manager Brian Epstein, written by Vivek J. Tiwary and illustrated by Andrew C. Robinson with Kyle Baker.
Can’t Buy Me Love…
Every artist needs a true believer in their corner, and of all notable advocates Epstein stands out as a blueprint for what can be accomplished with a mix of perseverance in the face of ridiculous odds, the innate cunning of a twentieth century Medici, a paternalistic doting on his wards, with a healthy dose of personal ambition and true – though unrequited – love.
Although often portrayed as a provincial who missed reaping appropriate financial rewards for many merchandizing deals, Tiwarry shows Epstein to be smart enough to lose a little in the now, to gain much more down the road. His deal with Ed Sullivan is particularly noteworthy in that sense.
The Fifth Beatle is not the fluff of Epstein’s autobiography A Cellar Full of Noise but akin to the intimate – though fictionalized – character study of David Münch’s 1991 film The Hours and The Times. Behind the stoicism of Epstein’s business face is the story of a man living outside of the values of his times. Epstein’s then illegal homosexuality, his dependency on prescription drugs, family pressures and self doubt are dealt with frankly.
Like many great graphic novels, the pages of The Fifth Beatle could easily double as film storyboards, and indeed Dark Horse’s press release hints at a movie in the works. While his research is impeccable, Tiwary, who previously worked on Broadway’s American Idiot, The Producers and Young Frankenstein, allows himself enough creative liberty to tell the story in an artistic manner. His use of a fanciful Pepper Pots style gal Friday (a mod dollybird playfully called Moxie) creates a foil for Epstein’s inner voice, and the script’s event juxtapositions play like a Francis Coppola screenplay. It’s also quite a stage worthy scenario. Can the musical be far behind?
Mother Superior Jump the Gun…
Mid-book Kyle Baker is handed the opportunity of an artistic intermezzo to cover the 1966 debacles of the group’s Philipines tour and John Lennon’s “bigger than Christ” comment. It recounts the first chinks in the Fab’s popularity and is duly rendered in a loose comic style that suggests the madness of Alice in Wonderland’s Caucus Race and appropriately relates (in retrospect) the absurdity of it all. It’s a wry comment on what happens when fans’ unquestioning adulation turns to fanatical indignation. I’m pretty sure encounters with mad bull Imelda Marcos and Beatle album burnings in the American south never factored into Epstein’s most outlandish reveries of what push-backs Beatlemania might suffer.
And In the End…
An extended “making of” section is an especially welcome addition to the already handsome hardcover. It gives readers a behind the scenes peek at the creative process with pages of Tiwarry’s script and tons of Robinson’s preliminary pencil art for major characters, blocking of pages and attention to details of the time.
Don’t make the mistake of overlooking Tiwary’s meticulous research work because it is wrapped in the guise of a graphic novel. With The Fifth Beatle you get biography bathe in the beauty of Robinson and Baker’s artwork. It’s a must have addition to the bookshelves of Fabs fans and would make a delicious gift.
Brookfield Place, at the World Financial Center in lower Manhattan, is once again the home of an amazing array of constructs created solely from canned and packaged foods. The Arts Brookfield Winter Garden area, with it’s spectacular view of the Hudson River and incongruous – for NYC – palm tree grove, is hosting the 21st Annual Canstruction display of crafty creations until November 13, 2013 from 10 am to 6 pm.
The pieces represent a wide breadth of iconic pop themes from Despicable Me minions and a Star Wars Imperial Walker, to Lady and the Tramps’ spaghetti sharing CANines (ouch!) and the Batman and Superman logos. Even the seemingly inescapable Sharknado is represented.
There’s an igloo with penguin, a storybook castle, and a gigantic silver sardine can skull. They must have known I was coming! The Stack-CAN Island Ferry is a local fave, while the nearby Loch-CAN-ness Monster pops its serpentine tuna can head above a Goya Bean lake.
Yes We CAN….
The goal behind this competitive artistic endeavor is to raise awareness of and collect food for those in need throughout the world. Events have been held annually since 1992 and Canstruction® has raised more than 21 million pounds of food since then. Last year’s New York drive aided nearly 100,000 residents.
Kenny Pierce of the PiercingMetal webzine and I had a fine time perusing and photographing these skillful works to share with you. In reality, their sheer size and design ingenuity needs to be experienced in person, so get yourself out to WFC before it’s gone. You can also chip in while you’re there. There’s a nice big bin on site into which you can roll your non-perishable food donations.
More information about the creators and a chance to vote for your favorite CANstructs at this Facebook page.
The Halloween Legion
Dark Horse Books/Sequential Pulp Comics
Publication Date: September 11, 2013
The Hist-Whisting of Autumn Lawns…
One of my fondest childhood memories is the annual family reading of Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow at Halloween. My Dad and Mom would sit me down by our fireplace and read the tale from a little abridged version that is still tucked away in my library. It didn’t matter that the flickering flames of our hearth were in reality the illusory effect of a propeller contraption mounted on a lightbulb, we always seemed to bring a bit of Catskills rusticity into our Brooklyn abode. That tradition stays with me to this day, and nary a year goes by when I don’t indulge in a reading of Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree, or peruse the pages of Deborah Kogan Ray’s impressionistic interpretation of e. e. cummings Hist Whist (Crown/Random House, 1989.)
A New Brew…
This year Dark Horse Books, in conjunction with Sequential Pulp Comics, serves up a delicious dose of all hallows entertainment with the publication of The Halloween Legion, a graphic novel that will join my small stack of October 31st favorites. Penned by Martin Powell with art by Thomas Boatwright and Diana Leto, the 80 page hard cover is a full color, beautifully rendered and action packed, romp through fall’s amber dusks and indigo twilights. The book’s dedication to Ray Bradbury, who Powell describes as its “spiritual godfather,” is no surprise as its feel is quite reminiscent of the recently deceased author’s work in all the best of ways.
Split into two stories, the core of the volume is “The Great Goblin Invasion,” follows the exploits of a quintet of shadowy seasonal icons. Powell’s Witch, Skeleton, Devil, Ghost, and Black Cat are all endowed with special powers and very iconoclastic personalities. These odd-ball avengers team up to protect the town of Woodland against the titular “goblins” who are in reality space invaders. Part two, “Once Upon A Halloween,” is an autobiographical yarn which recounts an eerie event that spawned Powell’s creation of the Legion.
The Halloween Legion is an excellent blend of classic spooky imagery with just the right amount of superhero and sci-fi spin to keep 21st century kids interested but not up all night with the frights.
Martin Powell, Diana Leto and Thomas Boatwright all have their own blogs where you can view and read more of their work. Leto and Powell have just begun the weekly subscription comic strip The Cave Girl over at the Edgar Rice Burroughs Website, while Boatwright is taking Halloween themed art commissions.