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.
Diamond Select Toys just unleashed a sweet treat for your Halloween bag in the form of an animated video featuring their line of Universal Monsters figures. Created by Alex Kropinak, the man behind the madness of the Marvel “What The …..?” series, the short follows a trio of Halloween candy hunters to some surprising doorways. In just over a minute we get a slew of cute vignettes of which I especially love the Metaluna Mutant conjuring up a giant candy corn on the old interocitor.
Scripted by Kropinak and DST Marketing Supervisor Zach Oat, the film nicely displays the expanded articulation of DST’s newest additions to the line, Son of Frankenstein and a beautifully revamped Creature from the Black Lagoon. It also affords a cameo appearance to their first original concept Van Helsing character.
Thanks to the Diamond Select gang for this excellent surprise. Having spent a healthy chunk of my early teen years creating backyard “jungle” adventures using a collection of 12 inch G.I. Joes, I’m always appreciative of a nice piece of stop motion animation like this one. The miniature sets are an inspiration for us toy photographers and Kropinak utilizes a touch of CGI for the atmospheric effects. This truly makes me pine for a proper animated version of Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree.
Word is Diamond Select will continue it’s Universal Monster line next year. A super articulated Wolfman would be awesome, but I’d be just as happy to see them do something left-of-center like a Henry Hull Werewolf of London. I’m also really curious to see what their next original creation will be.
Additionally Diamond Select will kick off their The Nightmare Before Christmas Mini-Mates series via shops participating in Halloween ComicFest, with a great Jack Skellington figure that was on display at New York Comic Con a week ago.
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.