Posts Tagged ‘frankenstein’

True Gris: Grimly IIlustrated Bradbury Classic

bradbury, gris grimly, knopf publishing, the halloween tree

Gris Grimly’s Dust Jacket for Knopf’s new “The Halloween Tree” edition.

I’d like to kick off October with a look at a book I ordered as a birthday gift for myself last month.

Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree remains my favorite autumn tome since I first purchased the Ballantine paperback edition back in 1972 and read it in one sitting. It is a wonderful rumination on the origins of the witching season wrapped in a quintessential Bradbury “boy’s tale” (or what we now call young adult fiction). Originally conceived as a screen treatment for an un-produced Chuck Jones cartoon, each of its characters learns the history and significance of their respective costume as they travel through the Samhain night on a quest to save a friend.

So it was with great excitement and anticipation that I awaited the arrival the 2015 edition from Alfred A. Knopf publishing, newly illustrated by artist Gris Grimley. Those who have previously encountered Grimly’s illustrations know his style is a perfect match for this Bradbury story. Yet Grimley’s task was no easy one because since it’s first release the book as been associated with the interior art of regular Bradbury collaborator Joseph Mugnaini (1912 – 1992). Mugnaini supplied the illustrations for the likes of Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, and The October Country. Two of my favorites appear in Golden Apples of the Sun as embellishments for the short stories “The Sound of Thunder” and “April Witch.”

Mugnaini’s pen and ink drawings for The Halloween Tree are notable for their crosshatch work, texture, and stark areas of black, in many cases giving the effect of scratchboard rendering. Mugnaini adopted this style based on the limitations of the print process. It’s a keep-it-simple method that worked well no matter the quality of paper or print job.

Grim & Grimmer…
While Gris Grimly’s new Halloween Tree art sits firmly in the tradition of fanciful and cartoon like, his use of tints and washes for shading lends his characters a more corporeal sense on the page and his full color wrap around dust jacket imparts an air of pure midwestern hallows eve as described in the book’s opening paragraphs. I believe the late Mr. Bradbury would approve.

As in his graphic novel spin on Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Grimly’s use of squashy ochres and greens-going-brown perfectly effect the feeling of autumn. In addition to the dust jacket art, the 9.5 x 6.5 inch hardcover book offers a profuse selection of full and half page illustrations, punctuated by 3 color plates. I’m not sure if Grimly rendered all of the pieces in color, but if so they would make an amazing portfolio.
bradbury, gris grimly, knopf publishing, the halloween tree

Whereas Mugnaini separated the chapter headers with unique mask drawings, Grimly chooses an array of grimacing, grinning, and giggling jack-o-lanterns to be his dividing images. Copies ordered from his website during September came autographed with the edict “Be Grim,” and a wonderful little color pumpkin sketch on the title page.

You may also want to collect Gris’s other illustrated works including Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, and a couple of volumes of Edgar Allan Poe tales.

The Ghoulish Gang Returns

Tree Hugging Frankie Gives a Halloween Peek-A-BOO!

Tree Hugging Frankie Gives a Halloween Peek-A-BOO!

These photos were taken a couple of years ago when I was first experimenting with a set of Polaroid close-up adaptors. Thought I’d share them for Halloween 2014.

I found this “paint-it-yourself” kit of approximately 2 inch plaster figures called “The Ghoulish Gang” in a crafts shop (possibly Michaels) ages ago. In those days better eyesight, a steadier hand, and a higher quality set of art brushes than the one the kit supplied, allowed for such an endeavor.

Ghostly Jack-In-The- Jack-O-Lantern

Ghostly Jack-In-The- Jack-O-Lantern

The “gang” returns from my basement storage area every fall season to add a little mirth to the household. I particularly enjoy these sculpts for their attention to detail (like the raven sitting on the witch’s shoulder) and their humorous spin on some classic monsters. The tree hugging Frankenstein and howling with his pals Wolfman are my favorites along with the unique “jack-in-the-jack-o-lantern” ghost popping out of a pumpkin. I’d be even happier had the set included a lagoonish “gillman.”

High Stakes: Van Helsing Joins Diamond Select Monster Series

Diamond Select Toys' Van Helsing action figure prototype as seen at Toy Fair 2014.

Diamond Select Toys’ Van Helsing action figure prototype as seen at Toy Fair 2014.

Van the Man…
Diamond Select Toys is taking the opportunity to expand the monster line with a unique design of their own. DST’s Van Helsing, is an armed-to-the-teeth vision of the vampire hunter with a wizened and battle scarred countenance. With his axe, rifle, pistol and bandolero of wooden spikes he’s clearly a determined and formidable foe for the feral creatures of the night.

With many of us still cringing from the loopy Hugh Jackman misstep of 2004 Van Helsing was a risky choice. Fortunately DST presents him as an effective cross between the grandfatherly character portrayed by Edward Van Sloan in 1931 and Anthony Hopkins’ frenzied doctor of Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula (1992.)

The Van Helsing “Select” version is the most ornate of the three new Wave 5 boxed packages. The base provides a cemetery scene with dual tombstones and vicious vampire bride Mina Harker pouching from her grave.

More Monsters…
I’ve been stalking Diamond Select Toy’s fifth wave of Universal Monsters figures since they first appeared as early prototypes in DST’s Toy Fair Booth back in 2013.

These two newest 7 inch scale action figures present Boris Karloff as The Monster from Son of Frankenstein, and a new version of The Creature From the Black Lagoon. The Jean St. Jean sculpts are created with “super articulation,” giving the models many more poseable points of movement than their previous incarnations.

DST has announced these items in blister-carded Toys “R” Us Exclusive configurations (already on the shelves) as well as “Select” boxes, available shortly in comic book shops, or for pre-order. The “Select” versions add extraordinarily detailed bases and props.

Inspector Krogh "lends a hand (and arm) to Karloff's "Son of Frankenstein" TRU Exclusive. Image Courtesy of Diamond Select Toys.

Inspector Krogh “lends a hand (and arm) to Karloff’s “Son of Frankenstein” TRU Exclusive. Image Courtesy of Diamond Select Toys.

The Monster is portrayed with a slightly more gaunt look than Karloff lensed in the original 1939 film. He is clothed in his signature “Son of” wooly vest, a look that will forever remind me of Sonny Bono’s preferred garb in the 1960’s. In addition to more articulation The Creature update trumps its Wave 1 predecessor with, to my eye, a sculpt more accurate to its film appearance and a glossier aquatic paint finish.

“Armed” and Dangerous…
The “Select” Son of Frankenstein comes with an awesome Kenneth Strickfaden inspired piece of electrical laboratory gear that will remind old school collector’s like myself of the similar rig that was part of Aurora’s classic Bride of Frankenstein tableau. No Son of Frankenstein collectible would be complete without the wooden arm of Lionel Atwill’s Inspector Krogh for the monster to swing around. For me it’s a must have, and I’m glad to report it comes in both packaging configurations, so you won’t be torn (hee, hee.)

SkeletonPete Says…
While I’m happy to learn that Diamond Select will continue to offer Universal Monster figures in another wave next year, I also applaud the initiative to bring some of their own creative juice to the monster mix.

The Aurora Plastic Model Company did this quite effectively in late 1960’s. Their Forgotten Prisoner of Castle Mare, The Witch, and The Guillotine models were equally cherished by collectors. In fact they are the only intact original Aurora models I still have. The others succumbed to an ill advised tangle with a barrage of firecrackers one fateful Independence day.

Super Funky: 70’s Style ReAction Figures @ NY Toy Fair 2014

The Crow, The Creature, Rocketeer and Snake Pliskin are 4 of my favorite ReAction Figures.

The Crow, The Creature, Rocketeer and Snake Pliskin are 4 of my favorite ReAction Figures.

Go Figure…
When Super7 and Funko announced their partnership in producing a 3.75 inch Alien figure set last August, they promised the collaboration would yield a lot more surprises. That was probably one of the biggest understatements of all time. At Funko’s 2014 Toy Fair booth the companies revealed an over 60 figure roll out for the ReAction line. The retro feel of the characters harks back to Kenner’s Star Wars figures of the 1970’s.

Super 7 & Funko's ReAction Alien set will be followed by over 60 3.75" figures.

Super 7 & Funko’s ReAction Alien set will be followed by over 60 3.75″ figures.

Many under served franchises like Goonies, Pulp Fiction, Escape From New York, Firefly, and the original Buffy, the Vampire Slayer film are fully represented, although sadly the Rocketeer is missing a companion Betty.

Modern monster fans will get a chance to add to their Nightmare on Elmstreet, Halloween, Friday the Thirteenth collections and also enjoy miniature spins on Sam from Trick ‘r Treat, Hellraiser‘s Pinhead Cenobite and my favorite, a pretty awesome rendition of The Crow. The Terminator and Predator franchises are represented too, with a cool, clear, “active camo” version of a Yautja hunter.

A bit less off the beaten path, classic Universal Horror fans will have there choice of 8 figures, including a rather dapper Invisible Man in smoking jacket, though the Frankenstein Monster is looking a little strange in a grey suit. There’s also a selection of Nightmare Before Christmas characters.

The individually blister-carded miniature series will roll out through the end of 2014 and retail for $9.99 each.

SkeletonPete Says…
This is a pretty amazing assortment of licensed items released in a short period of time. While I don’t see most collectors buying ’em all, there’s enough diversity to make lots of people covet at least 50% of the offerings. If there’s a Wave 2 down the road, I’d love to see Dusk ‘Til Dawn, Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill, and Sucker Punch represented.

Click Any Image To Launch Gallery

New World Ardor… Living Dead Dolls Celebrate A Record Breaking Sweet Sixteen

Mezco Toyz, Living Dead Dolls Series 27. (L to R) Mephistopheles, The Banshee, Milu, Spring-Heeled Jack and The Hopping Vampire

Mezco Toyz, Living Dead Dolls Series 27. (L to R) Mephistopheles, The Banshee, Milu, Spring-Heeled Jack and The Hopping Vampire

Sweet Sixteen and Never Been Kissed, Any Wonder?…
2014 marks the sixteenth anniversary of Mezco Toyz’ Living Dead Dolls line. This milestone makes these creepy creations the longest continually produced series of horror themed dolls on the planet. Mezco’s Mike Drake informed me that the company will be honored for this world record at the Toy Industry Association’s 111th Annual American International Toy Fair which begins in New York City in just a couple of days.

The outre, coffin encased, dollies are the brainchild of Ed Long, Damien Glonek, and “Mez” Markowitz, whose artistic imagination must be commended on this long run of sardonic but fun characters. Damien notes, “I couldn’t be happier with the support and dedication our fans have given us throughout the years. The dolls have taken on a life of their own…” As for their inception, “There was never a thought out plan when we first started. Living Dead Dolls was built upon a do what we like attitude and it grew into something beyond our wildest expectations.”

Living Dead Dolls Series 27…
A world record calls for a world vision and so for Series 27 the creators have set their nets wide and come up with a cosmopolitan collection of characters of myth and legend. 

Spring Heeled Jack – The Victorian urban legend of penny dreadful fame that terrorized London. A creeper and a leaper.

The Banshee – The Irish fairy who heralds death with her mournful wail. If she sits with you for a pint of Guinness be sure your life insurance policy is paid up.

Milu – The Polynesian goddess and guardian of the land of the dead. Mess with this Tiki temptress and you won’t be drinking piña coladas at Trader Vic’s for long. She’ll fill you full of flys and feed you to her pet lizards.

The Hopping Vampire – The life force absorbing Jiangshi of pan-asian folklore and popular film series.

Mephistopheles – The devilish trickster and adversary of Goethe’s Faust. Sign on the dotted line at your own risk.

In addition, Colonial America will get it’s due with a Headless Horseman LDD, complete with malevolent looking pumpkin noggin, and Series 1 character Posey, comes back from the undead in a ghostly white special edition.

Mezco's LDD Creature is still in the working stages, but promises to be a real collector's treat.

Mezco’s LDD Creature is still in the working stages, but promises to be a real collector’s treat.

SkeletonPete Says…
Also announced, though not on display at Mezco’s early reveal, is an LDD version of The Creature from the Black Lagoon. It will join the already available Frankenstein, Bride of, and Dracula dolls. It’s going to be a must own for creach fans like myself. The still to be approved prototype is pictured in Mezco’s 2014 Toy Fair catalog and it is already too cool to pass up.