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Color My World : Crayola’s Diverse Universe

crayola, sketch wizard, ny toy fair 2015, 3d figures, 3d systems

Crayola Classic 64 Box flanked by new 3D printed figures.

During a recent walk through a local Staples office supply store my wife and I happened upon a colorful surprise. A section of a merchandise isle dedicated solely to products from the Crayola Company. I had already been somewhat aware of the diversity of Crayola items seen at a pre-holiday event held by The Big Toy Book, but didn’t fully grasp just how expansive the selection was. Needless to say Crayola’s Toy Fair 2015 booth was one of my main objectives while covering the Toy Industry Association (TIA) event and the tour of goodies did not disappoint.

Starting as the Binney & Smith Company, selling industrial pigments, Crayola has been in business for well over 100 years putting art supplies in the hands of one generation after another. The current product line perfectly embraces a two fold vision. There is a tried and true allegiance to standard crayon-in-hand creativity that blossoms in connection with technology both old and new.

crayola, sketch wizard, ny toy fair 2015

Crayola’s Sketch Wizard offers ancient art technology in a kid friendly package.


Drawing on History…
For instance, the Sketch Wizard is a colorful spin on the camera obscura, an ancient optical device that essentially allows you to trace your subject via it’s projected image. It is widely posited that many artists throughout history used this method to properly render perspective and foreshortening on the 2 dimensional page or canvas. My niece, whose parents were fascinated by Tim’s Vermeer, the recent film documenting the recreation of a Johannes Vermeer style painting by a non-artist using this method, found this one was under the Xmas tree last December.

Also in old school tech mode is the hand pumped Crayola Air Brush, which turns your markers into spray brushes, giving you a perfect way to create delicate stenciled art or misty backgrounds for your characters to inhabit.

Dimension Extension…
The Color Alive products, what Crayola calls a “4D” experience, feature traditional looking coloring books and crayons that allow image capture into your tablet environment. Once visually pulled into the downloadable app your character comes to life in the colors you chose, and against a selection of backgrounds, including the real world image of whatever you point your device’s camera at. I was treated to a fire-breathing dragon dancing on my head with nary a tipple, I swear. The product range currently includes some very popular licenses from Mattel’s Barbie to the Activision’s Skylanders universe. Specialty crayon colors in each package add active nuances like flames and sparkles to the on screen art.

Additionally, 3D Systems in partnership with Crayola can print up a unique collector statue from your 2D Color Alive art. That option should arrive in April 2015.

crayola, sketch wizard, ny toy fair 2015, 3d figures, 3d systems, animation studio

Caryola’s Animation Studio software will capture mannequin moves and translate them to your tablet screen character.

‘Tweening for ‘Tweens…
As someone who dabbled in stop-motion animation during my pre and early teens I found the most impressive demo to be the Color Alive Easy Animation Studio. In my day I enlisted my full size Hasbro G.I. Joe’s to be the stars of my films, often covering them in clay to resemble the creatures in my favorite Ray Harryhausen epics like Seventh Voyage of Sinbad. My “G. I. Cyclops” got a lot of screen time.

Set for July 2015 release, Crayola’s stop motion animation package includes an articulated figure, book with 10 characters to customize and a software application. You simply move the figure into the main positions you prefer, photograph each with your device and the motion capture app does the “tweening,” giving you smooth transitions between the moves. I was pretty amazed by the finished look based on a few simple moves.

crayola, sketch wizard, ny toy fair 2015, 3d figures, 3d systems, crayon carver, animation studio

Crayola’s Crayon Carver allows you to personalize those favorite colors.


I Am Curious (UnMellow Yellow)…
Several newly announced Crayola kits including the Cling Creator to make gummy window and mirror adornments and The Crayon Carver, an engraver that let’s kids personalize their colors of choice, will be worth your attention. Each would make an interesting “activity station” at a birthday party or family gathering, with something self created to go home with. Others like the Paint Maker and Marker Maker kits give kids a hands-on experience creating their own artist’s tools and colors. Paint Maker was TIA’s Activity Toy of the Year Winner for 2015.

SkeletonPete Says…
As a professional photographer with a fascination for stop motion animation, the Sketch Wizard and Animation Studio are my two favorites. They hit my historical and technological sweet spots for those two disciplines.

I suggest you make the Crayola kiosk a destination next time you’re shopping to get the full experience. The company has kept the price range very moderate, with kits running from approximately $17.00 – $30.00 USD and expansion and refill packages not prohibitive.

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Book of the Dead: Mezco’s LIving Dead Doll Art Book

Mezco Publications "Art of the Living Dead"

Mezco Publications “Art of the Living Dead”

Party Doll…
As noted in previous features, 2014 marks the Sweet Sixteenth year Mezco ToyzLiving 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.

Mezco's Mez, Damian and Ed received Living Dead Doll World Record Award at NY Toy Fair 2014.

Mezco’s Mez, Damian and Ed received Living Dead Doll World Record Award at NY Toy Fair 2014.


Chop Shop…
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.

Living Dead Dolls Series 28, all dressed up and ready to party.

Living Dead Dolls Series 28, all dressed up and ready to party.


Fan Dance…
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.

Limited Edition Ripley's Collector Coins ensure your entry into the Superweek Book Signing

Limited Edition Ripley’s Collector Coins ensure your entry into the Superweek Book Signing


Event Details…
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.”

Be Aware…
You’ll have to show the secret sign of three Ripley’s Collector Coins for free entry – be sure to check out the details at the Ripley’s website.

The Light is Winning: Mignola’s Hellboy @ 20 Years Old

Dark Horse Comics Celebrates 20 Years of Hellboy w/ Book and 3.22.14 Worldwide  Event.

Dark Horse Comics Celebrates 20 Years of Hellboy w/ Book and 3.22.14 Worldwide Event.


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.

HELLBOY DAY EVENTS—Saturday, March 22, 2014

 
1.Mike Mignola—Meltdown Comics—Los Angeles, CA
2 p.m.
Meltdown Comics
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.
Gosh! Comics
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
(847) 423-2916
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
+1 416-533-9168

 7. Sebastián & Max Fiumara—Moebius Liceo—Buenos Aires, Argentina
5 p.m.–10 p.m.
Moebius Liceo
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
Vila Mariana
São Paulo 04106-061
+55 11 3214-0553

Fanfare for the Un-Common Man: Dark Horse’s “The Fifth Beatle”

This Magic Moment: Brian Epstein Encounters The Beatles in Liverpool's Cavern Club (Illustration courtesy of Dark Horse Comics)

This Magic Moment: Brian Epstein Encounters The Beatles in Liverpool’s Cavern Club (Illustration courtesy of Dark Horse Comics)

The Fifth Beatle
Author: Vivek J. Tiwary
Illustration: Andrew C. Robinson with Kyle Baker
Dark Horse Publications
Hardcover
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?
TheFifthBeatleCover
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.

SkeletonPete Says…
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.

CAN-tastic Constructs Foster Charitable Vision

"We CAN Kill Hunger," by Studios Architecture, Obviously Tops SkeletonPete's CANstruction Faves for 2013

“We CAN Kill Hunger,” by Studios Architecture, Obviously Tops SkeletonPete’s CANstruction Faves for 2013

Canapés? Nope, CAN-O-PEAS!
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.

Cool Beans…
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.

Brookfield Arts' Winter Garden Will Host Canstruction 2013 until 11.13.13

Brookfield Arts’ Winter Garden Will Host Canstruction 2013 until 11.13.13


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.

SkeletonPete Says…
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.

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