Vintage

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I have to admit when the X-Men 90s cartoon was airing I was busy bopping around Boston and then towards the end getting married, so I missed this whole era.  To be honest the aesthetic really isn’t my thing, but I respect the kids who grew up around it that are completely devoted to the particular brand of action that the cartoon delivered and delivered well by all accounts.

Youtube user joelyface is putting together his own fan series and the results are fantastic.  Check out the video below to see a faithful recreation of the character designs and support him if you can.  

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Without directly knowing, Mike Ploog has been with me my entire life. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized that Mike has intersected with the things I love from childhood to the present day.

There are a variety of images I could have chosen as the lead for this, but I think simple demonstrates his talent best. Mike Ploog seems to effortlessly display movement. When you look at a Ploog sketch you intuitively know what is going to happen after and what has happened before. You can feel Werewolf by Night’s mouth open in close in a menacing growl, his shoulders roll and his hands moving towards you. You instinctively feel that you are in danger. It takes a great talent to convey that.

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Mr. Ploog was in the marines for a decade before working for the mighty Filmation and Hanna-Barbera and then with the great Will Eisner on the Army’s Preventive Maintenance Monthly. During Marvel’s horror era Mike Ploog was the artist for the creation of Ghost Rider and Werewolf by Night. He drew some of the most dynamic versions of the Man-Thing and several other titles.  His career in the film industry is nothing short of astounding working on design, illustration and story boards for Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards and Lord of the Rings, Heavy Metal, The Thing, The Dark Crystal, Superman III, Supergirl, Return to Oz, Disney’s forgotten Black Cauldron, Young Sherlock Holmes, Little Shop of Horrors, The Witches, The Tick television series, The Prince of Egypt, Titan A.E. and 2000s X-Men.

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Ploog’s early comic work drew me to his style in the seventies, even when I didn’t quite understand who he was but then he followed me throughout my teenage years by working on and influencing some of the greatest fantasy ever put to film.  Almost without exception, if I was obsessed with a fantasy film Mike Ploog was behind the scenes laboring on it in some fashion.   Carpenter’s The Thing is my favorite horror film, Superman III inspired me to become a software engineer (weird, but true), I fought with my parents because they were going to see Lord of the Rings without me, I can sing most of the songs from Little Shop of Horrors and Young Sherlock Holmes is a bizarre masterpiece that also introduced the world to John Lasseter, now Disney and Pixar’s Chief Creative Officer.

I’ve passed these loves down to my children and I hope they do the same.  There is something special about each and every one of them and Ploog’s contributions large or small resonate still.

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After almost fifty years of working in creative industries Mike Ploog is releasing an art book filled with his life’s work.  This will be 320 pages of illustrations and examples from his career. The Kickstarter will run through July 16th of 2015 and I highly recommend you pick it up. In my mind, supporting a man who has given so much to what we love is an important thing to.  His work draws you in and seeing it together like this will pull you back into worlds of your childhood and inspire creatives of the future.

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If I think back, I probably saw Space 1999 before I saw The Thunderbirds, basically going at the Gerry Anderson catalog backwards. Anderson was so proific though that I have keeping up with all of his creations. I am just getting familiar with his UFO series now.

Something about the design of his shows seems to stick with me. I remember the first time I saw Thunderbirds and thinking how odd the character designs were, but after an episode or two they just became characters to me. I think that speaks to the way that Anderson presented. There was enough explosions, fires and spaceships to pull you in, but the stories were always fun and kept you watching. I talk often about how Japanese television was my first exposure to longer story arcs in children’s television, but Anderson was doing it too. Heyou did not underestimate the intelligence of his audience, even if that audience was only six years old.

If you bring up The Thunderbirds with the right generation you will get a warm reception. Mostly the old shows still hold up. As per norm for the time period they still veer into casual racism every once and a while and that is hard to watch, but the miniature sets, pyrotechnics and comedy are still wildly entertaining. I haven’t tested this on my own kids yet, I am not completley confident they would have the same reaction. I allow nostalgia to color a lot of these old memories for me and they may feel more interesting then they actually are.

Since the geeks are currently inheriting the earth we are driving the entertainment, so I guess it was inevitable that we would get a Thunderbirds reboot in this generation. When the new character designs were introduced a few weeks ago the internet unified in a collective ‘ew’. I also joined in the chorus of thinking the characters were more off putting than inspiring.

New-look Thunderbirds

Time passes and we get our first look at the full first trailer and I feel like I get it. The folks in charge of the reboot want to stay as true to the spirit of the original where they can and update it just enough to draw in a new audience. Honestly I think they have hit the target. I came to that conclusion when the trailer gets to the part where they have the futuristic sub with mechanical arms and it felt like Thunderbirds. All the wacky physics made all the memories flood back.

I need to read more detail about how they are filming, but while the characters are computer generated it feels like some of the ships and the sets are still handled in minature which is why a lot of this feels very authentic.

We will have to wait until the full show premeires, but I am now full of optimism. People seem to be getting sick of reboots, but as long as I am entertained I don’t mind the occasional tweak to the formula. Sometimes as it makes the whole better and I am all for introducing a new generation to Anderson’s work.

Here is the old intro folks to kickstart those Saturday morning Gen X and late boomer memories.

Krampus Toy

I know I am a couple of weeks early but sometimes the spirit of the season just takes over. Last year we introduced our friend the Krampus, one of the weirdest holiday traditions that I know of.  Since we last left our furry monstrosity he seems to have been gainfully employed and taken to Twitter, which is good because kidnapping poorly behaved children can’t be lucrative.

As you can see, Krampus is now working as a Mall Krampus, it doesn’t appear that he has changed any of his style though. He is still generally cantankerous and loathsome.

I guess that is all we can expect from him, and I suspect it is better that we know where he is rather than have him randomly patrolling our communities looking for mischief. He doesn’t really have the strongest social skills either, so he just speaks his mind without a lot of concern for others. I don’t know about you, but I plan on following his feed to see how this whole thing develops.

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Once again folks it is time for one of my favorite holidays.  Halloween is pretty unique, there are no strict rules about how to celebrate and the opportunity to pretend to be something other than you are in your day to day life is always welcome.

In the Giant Japanese Robot offices we are busy hot gluing, stitching and painting our costumes for a night on the town, so instead of putting together a comprehensive Halloween post I thought I would link to some of our spookier articles.  Apparently I write about scary things a lot.  Enjoy yourselves tonight!

Must See Horror Films: Part 1

Must See Horror Films: Part 2

Creature Double Feature: Monster Stuff

Creature Double Feature: Horror Stuff

Sesame Street: The Letter B – Harbinger of Doom

Watching: Hellraiser III

The Shining: Lloyd the Bartender, Dr. Eldon Tyrell and Room 237

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This is a weird one, but writing is therapeutic and y’all are nice people so I appreciate you bearing with me.

In stereotypical nerd fashion I have a lot of allergies, horrific seasonal allergies, respiratory issues and I can’t eat a lot of fruit until it is cooked.  I know no one cares about that, but it explains me losing a lot of my sense of smell by adulthood.

As a consequence of my broken honker I tend to get quite a few phantom smells.  Sometimes the smells are not really there and sometimes I am smelling one thing, but it is actually something else.

I was just working on the couch and the most powerful smell surrounded me.  It smelled exactly like the little bit of taffy that was included in the packs of the Disney stickerbooks from the late seventies.  I used to gather up my change or beg my parents to buy me these, first for the taffy and then for the four measly stickers that were included.

I kid you not, this taffy was up there with some of the greatest foods ever created.  For reference it was better than the white fun dip sticks, which I know is hard to believe, but you have to trust me on this.  Unfortunately this cannot be proven by science, for if I was to find some of this thirty plus year old taffy I assume it would taste terrible, but I guess I would be willing to try, y’know for science.

Not sure what the smell actually was or even if it was there at all, but it caused me to hunt down and archive the above image, which proves to me that those memories weren’t a hallucination.  Which is comforting.

Piper Laurie

 

We posted about Carrie at the end of October and we are sitting down watching Twin Peaks where Piper plays a deliciously evil villain.  When looking up info about her I came across this Christmas glamour shot colored from black and white.  She is now 81, people are amazing at every age.