Posts Tagged ‘Horror’

Danny Huynh Animatronic Sings ‘My Way’

December 23, 2022

Here’s a fun little video I found on Apuk Tube Channel and decided to put it up. I hope it helps to spread some seasonal cheer this Christmas/Hanukkah. It’s of one of the robots created by Danny Huynh singing that old Sinatra classic, ‘My Way’. Huynh tends to create robots and vehicles with a distinctly beaten, grungy look, as if they’d come from a Mad Max style future dystopia. I’ve put up a series of his videos where he’s had these robots and also the Aliens from the SF/Horror franchise singing. This one is no exception with this robot looking distinctly like it’s seen better days, quite in contrast to the dapper Sinatra. There are also videos about the robot’s creation and how it was given a suitable SF vehicle on Huynh’s channel. Enjoy!

Sketch of Children’s TV Presenter Brian Cant

December 2, 2022

This is the first of a number of sketches and pieces I’m planning to put up about some of the presenters of the children’s TV programmes I used to watch in the 70s. Cant was the lead presenter on Play Away, a sister programme of the long-running children’s TV favourite, Play School, on which Cant had also appeared, but aimed at slightly older children. Play Away was also more of an ensemble programme with a whole team accompanying Cant. There was somebody Cohen at the piano, and a number of other co-presenters, some of whom I’ve now forgotten. I think one of them was Toni Arthur, who I’ve since learned was a folk musician and the author of a book on seasonal customs for children, the All The Year Round Book. One of the presenters I do remember was Jeremy Irons, who has gone on to become a Hollywood star. I was really surprised in the ’90s when I read that he was playing the lead characters in David Cronenberg’s psychological horror film Dead Ringers. This was about a pair of twin gynaecologists, one of whom goes insane and believes that the women he’s treating are all mutants. The film includes a credit to H.R. Giger, the Swiss artist who designed the Alien in those movies, for designing ‘radical surgical instruments’. It’s as far from Play Away as you can get and is a reminder that the cast of such programmes are actors, who also take adult roles. Somebody must have seen Irons in Play Away and recognised his potential.

Cant was also the narrator for three interlinked children’s series, Chigley, Trumpton and Camberwick Green each set in one of these small fictional towns. These were animated series using small figurines and were similar in style, using the same type of figures and music. Trumpton started off with Cant announcing, ‘Here is the clock, the Trumpton clock. Telling the time, steadily, sensibly, never too quickly, never too slowly, telling the time for Trumpton.’ The various characters also had their own theme songs. One of the characters, whose figure I’ve drawn being looked at by Cant, was Windy Miller. Miller appropriately enough lived in a windmill. His song began, ‘Windy Miller, Windy Miller, sharper than a thorn’. The theme song for the local fire brigade began with a rollcall of their names, ‘Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grubb.’ The railway also had its own song with the words, ‘Time flies by when you’re the driver of a train as you ride on the footplate there and back again.’ These shows have developed a cult following. In the 1980s the band Half Man Half Biscuit released a record Trumpton Riots, about what would happen if Trumpton had a riot. According to rumour, it parodied the train song with the words ‘Time flies by when you’re the driver of a train, as you ride on the footplate with a cargo of cocaine’. You can find videos of ‘Trumpton Riots’ on YouTube, including the lyrics. These words don’t seem to appear, but perhaps they’re on another song with a similar theme. Half Man Half Biscuit, as their name suggests, had a peculiar sense of humour. One of their other songs was ‘All I Want For Christmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit’. This was just before Communism fell, when there were far fewer people from eastern Europe in Britain, who might genuinely want such a football kit for their collection.

The series’ visual style has also influenced pop video producers. One of the series began, if I recall correctly, with one of the characters spiralling up out of an opened music box. Something similar occurs in the Ting Tings’ video for ‘That’s Not My Name’, where the two leads seem to spiral up into view from something off camera below them. The producers of another pop video for a song with the delightful name ‘Burn The Witch’, deliberately based its style on the three children’s series. He also appeared in a pop video for Orbital’s The Altogether in a sequence which was similar to Play School, the children’s TV programme that preceded Play Away and in which Cant also appeared as a presenter. He also appeared in a number of other programmes and theatrical productions. Wikipedia notes that Cant won a poll as the best-loved voice from children’s TV in 2007, and three years later in 2010 he won a special award at the BAFTAs for his work in children’s television. Accepting it, Cant said: “When I was a child I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. When I became a man I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child, and they paid me for it.”

For further information, see:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Cant

I found this rendition of the Play Away theme with a still of its cast on Bobby Gathergood’s channel on YouTube.

I found this video of Trumpton’s opening titles on the It’s Sam! channel on YouTube:

Sketches of Comedians/Comic Actors Eric Sykes, Frankie Howerd and Hattie Jacques

November 20, 2022

Here’s a bit more art of some of Britain’s greatest comic talents, which I hope will brighten your day. Once again, they all come from a certain era. They’re of Frankie Howerd, Eric Sykes, and Hattie Jacques. Howerd used to live in the village of Mark in Somerset, where he was very well respected. He used to turn up and support village fetes. A friend of mine used to live there, and he told me that Howerd used to rehearse in the local church hall. One Sunday at church his voice started coming through the walls during the service, so they were all entertained with cries of ‘Oooh, no! Oh, you mustn’t, no! Titter ye not!’ and so on. In the late ’80s/first years of the 90s he was just coming back as well and was all set to do a new series of Up Pompeii when he died after broadcasting just one episode of the new show.

Eric Sykes – a very talented performer and writer. He had his own long running series on BBC 1, with Hattie Jacques playing his long-suffering sister and Derek Guyler as Korky, the local policeman. Guyler was also multi-talented. Way back in the 1950s he was part of a skiffle band, playing the washboard. Sykes is probably best remembered for the film The Plank, in which he and other great stars of British TV try to carry a plank of wood across town, surviving all manner of accidents and funny incidents. But he wasn’t confined to comedy. One of his last performances was as the butler in the horror film The Others.

Hattie Jacques, drawn in the role she’s probably best remembered for, the matron in the Carry On films. But as well as starring with Eric Sykes as his sister, she also appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour when it was on the radio as his housekeeper. She well deserves a place in any roll call of British funny women.

2000AD and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Artist Kevin O’Neill Dies Aged 69

November 9, 2022

I was saddened to learn of the death on Monday of Kevin O’Neill, one of the great British comics artists behind many of the favourite strips in 2000AD over here and DC Comics and other publishers in America. O’Neill was the co-creator, with writer Pat Mills, of the Robusters, ABC Warriors and Nemesis the Warlock strips in 2000 AD, the galaxy’s greatest comic. Robusters was about a robot disaster squad, led by Hammerstein, an old war droid, and Rojaws, a foul-mouthed sewer robot, who formed a kind of double act. The squad was owned by the dictatorial Howard Quartz, alias ‘Mr 10 Per Cent’, because after some kind of disaster, only ten per cent of him – his brain – was still human, housed in a robot body. The penalty for failure or simply upsetting the boss was destruction, and the pair were always on the verge of being pulled apart by the sadistic but thick robot bulldozer, Mekquake. ABC Warriors was a continuation of Hammerstein’s adventures, first in a world war against the Volgan Republic, and then on Mars and a far future Earth, as the leader of an elite squad of robots dedicated to fighting evil. Nemesis the Warlock was a weird sword and sorcery strip set in the far future. The surface of the Earth had become a devastated wasteland and humanity had retreated underground. Renamed Termight, short for ‘Mighty Terra’, it was a medieval society ruled by an evil order of warriors, the Terminators, that hated and feared intelligent alien. Led by their Grand Master, Torquemada, Earth regarded such aliens as demonic and waged a war of extermination against them. O’Neill’s art, which is angular and geometric, was suitably Gothic and horrific, creating a nightmare variety of alien creatures. His art was so horrific, in fact, that later, when he was working on the Green Lantern Corps, a superhero comic for DC, it put the wind up the Comics Code Authority. This had been founded in the 1950s during the moral panic over comics. It was supposed to judge whether or not a comic was suitable to be read by children. Although it was supposedly voluntary, in fact all children’s comics had to be submitted to the Authority as otherwise the mainstream newsagents over there wouldn’t carry them. The writer, Alan Moore, who also created the cult strip about a future Fascist Britain, V For Vendetta, took the unusual step of contacting the Authority. Would the comic get approved if various changes were made? No, they replied. It wasn’t the strip’s story; it was the artwork. It was totally unsuitable for children. This became something of a source of pride and amusement to O’Neill and the other creators at 2000 AD. So grim was his art that rumours started circulating that he had an occult temple in his basement and drew only at night. These were completely false. On the other hand, a fan once told his fellow 2000 AD artist, Dave Gibbons, that O’Neill’s art gave him nightmares which he could only cure by looking a Gibbons. When O’Neill wasn’t traumatising people with his serious strips, he made them laugh with Dash Descent, a parody of the old Flash Gordon serials. He also drew the Tharg’s Future Shocks strip which a court later ruled had been plagiarised by the film maker Richard Stanley for the film Hardware. This was set in a decaying city in which a scavenger in the radiation deserts finds and brings back the remains of an experimental war robot, the B.A.A.L. His artist girlfriends reassembles it and it then goes off on a frenzy of killing. Hardware is a cult film, which stands up even now, three decades after it was made. Highlights include cameo appearances by Lemmy, as a water taxi driver, and the voice of Iggy Pop as a radio announcer. It’s just a pity Stanley didn’t work out a deal with 2000 AD first. He also contributed in other, minor ways to the comic. He created the look of Tharg, the comic’s alien editor from the star Betelgeuse, and introduced the credit cards telling readers who the writer, artist and letterer were, quite against the publisher’s policy. But this allowed the people, who actually created the strips, to gain the proper recognition and respect for their work.

O’Neill left 2000 AD for work with the American comics companies. He and writer Pat Mills created Metalzoic for DC. This was another robot strip, set on a far future Earth where an ecology of robot animals had developed and taken over, and followed the adventures of a tribe of robot ape men and the human woman they had rescued. It still is one of my favourite strips, but sadly flopped, though it was later reprinted in 2000 AD. O’Neill was far more successful with the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, written by Alan Moore. This had the idea that the great figures of 19th and early 20th century SF, Fantasy and Horror – Alan Quatermaine, the Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll/Mr Hyde, Captain Nemo and Dorian Grey – had formed a kind of superhero group. It was filmed with Sean Connery as Quatermaine. Back to causing gleeful mayhem, O’Neill and Mills created the violent, nihilistic Marshal Law. This was an adult comic set in a near future San Francisco. Devastated by an earthquake, the city was renamed San Futuro, and plagued by warring superhero gangs. The superheroes had been created to fight in a war in South America. As a result, many of the survivors had returned to America mentally and physically scarred, some turning to violent crime. Law was the member of a small anti-superhero squad, moved by a deep hatred of superheroes. He uttered phrases like ‘They say I hate superheroes. They’re wrong. Hatred is far too bland a word for the way I feel about them’ and ‘I’m hunting heroes. I haven’t found any yet’. Mills hates superheroes and has very left-wing politics and poured that into the strip. It commented on recent developments in genetic engineering and the patenting of GMOs, insane CIA plans to overthrow Fidel Castro and other South American left-wing regimes and how America trained the sadistic torturers for the continent’s Fascist dictators. There was also an overt feminist critique of the genre and the fictional glamorisation of the real horrors of war. The Marshal’s opponents were vicious parodies of various superheroes. Despite its grim premise, it was a hilarious strip, although the humour was pitch-black. It was too much for one publisher, however, and moved from one to another. It has now been collected into a single album, although sadly without the crossover strip featuring the Marshal fighting Pinhead from Hellraiser.

Outside of comics, O’Neill apparently published his own fanzine, Just Imagine: The Journal of Film and Television Special Effects. I also remember him being credited in Starlog for designing the aliens in the Disney film, Return to Witch Mountain.

I met O’Neill extremely briefly at the UKCAC 90 comics convention, 32 years ago. From what I can remember, he was a short, slightly built chap in a T-shirt championing solidarity with Nicaragua, whose left-wing regime was under attack by the brutal Contras funded by Reagan and Thatcher. He was drawing people’s favourite characters for them on badges supplied by the convention’s organisers. But he was an amazing artist, producing very high-quality drawings in a blur of speed. There are a series of videos of him speaking at various comics conventions about Nemesis, Marshal Law and the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, where he appears as short, jolly fellow with a great sense of humour, chortling over the daft incidents he’s experienced during his career.

In a separate interview, also on YouTube, Alan Moore commented on his art, praising him as one of the greatest British artists of all time. Moore remarks that O’Neill’s celebrated for his robots and aliens, but not for his humans. But Moore considers that he is brilliant depicter of humans as grotesques, and in that sense is one of the best artists since Hogarth. It sounds like something that should go in Private Eye’s ‘Pseud’s Corner’, but in my opinion it’s absolutely correct. Particularly as Hogarth produced sequential art himself as the kind of precursor of comics. I strongly believe that comics artists, or at least the very best, are insufficiently appreciated. I think they can be as good as serious fine artists. Way back in the 90s I submitted a piece to one of the art magazines arguing that comics artists like O’Neill and Jack Kirby were artists, whose styles meant that they should receive the same appreciation as those of the Soviet austere style, Francis Bacon and H.R. Giger. The Nemesis the Warlock strip had scenes of pure body horror. In one of the two precursor strips that launched the character, Killerwatt, Nemesis and Torquemada chase each other down the teleport wires, in which people are transported electrically similar to the telephone. At one point they have to cross the Sea of Dead Souls, a nightmare morass caused when a gooney bird, a massive mechanical bird, sat on the wires. Those unfortunate enough to be there when it happened are turned into a mass of hugely distorted body parts, such as giant feet with eyes. It resembles the scene of the ‘shunt’ in the 80s horror movie, Society, where members of America’s elite class are portrayed as predators who can twist and distort their bodies into any shape whatsoever. The Shunt is an orgy in which they melt down into a similar morass of bodies to feed off tramps and other members of the lower orders. Society’s a great film if you like that kind of ‘orror, but came out a few years after Mills and O’Neill got there first.

There have been a number of great obituaries for him at Bleedingcool and on 2000 AD’s website. These give the reactions and messages of grief and appreciation from the other comics creators. The 2000 AD page gives a full potted biography and examples of his truly amazing artwork.

RIP great man. May your art continue to shock, amaze, amuse and inspire.

Kevin O’Neill 1953 – 2022

https://bleedingcool.com/comics/kevin-oneill-the-man-the-comics-code-tried-to-ban-has-died-at-69/

In Memoriam: Comic Artist Kevin O’Neill 1953 – 2022

JOE’s Satirical Parody of the Tory Government as the Zombie’s from ‘Thriller’

November 1, 2022

JOE is another YouTube channel that cuts the speeches and pronouncements of politicians and celebrities to make them appear to say stupid things as satire. It was Hallowe’en yesterday, so they’ve created this suitably seasonal musical parody. In this clip, they send up the Tory government by having Jacob Rees-Mogg intone a twisted version of Vincent Price’s spoken words in the 1980s Michael Jackson hit, ‘Thriller’. This shows the Tories rising from the graves as a true Zombie government, who have trashed the economy, jacked up mortgages, devastated people’s pensions. Jeremy Hunt is once again a psycho who will make more cuts to the NHS than Norman Bates. And Liz Truss is Chucky, the killer doll.

Therese Coffey as Gigeresque Horror

October 30, 2022

Here’s another picture suitable for Hallowe’en – Therese Coffey portrayed as something from H.R. Giger’s fevered imagination. I was inspired by one of the paintings in the Giger Necronomicon, and Coffey has such vile views and policies that it seemed suitable. She gave an answer to a interview question that was so ‘orrible and disgusting, that the left-wing vlogger Maximilien Robespierre wondered if she was even human. Good question. Certainly there’s nothing humane about her attitude to the poor and sick. Don’t have nightmares!

Sketches and Cartoons of Truss and Cabinet

October 20, 2022

One of the things I’ve been doing over the past couple of days is making straight and satirical sketches of our former Prime Minister and her cabinet of horrors. I was going to wait a while until I had worked out a few more ideas for cartoons, but after today’s news of Truss’ resignation, I thought I’d better put them up while they’re still relevant.

And as Truss has finally given in and resigned, I thought this piccie of her being dragged off by the mental health experts would be the most suitable. If you can’t read it, the caption reads, ‘They’re Coming To Take Her Away’.

Then there are these sketches of Truss as the latest incarnation of Pinhead from the Hellraiser 2022 film, and Therese Coffey as two characters from the 1984 version of Dune: Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, a man so fat he needs implanted anti-gravity devices to get around and has a horrible skin disease on his face; and a guild navigator, who are so mutated that they are carted around in large, enclosed vehicles.

Then there are these sketches. One is Coffey again, this time depicted as a Lovecraftian horror, and the other is of Jeremy Hunt. And I intend to send him up later.

And lastly there’s this one of Jacob Rees-Mogg. This is also a preparatory sketch for another cartoon.

Satirical Sketches of Truss, Kwarteng, Coffey and & Kenneth Williams

October 14, 2022

Brian’s suggestion that now ex-chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng should be nicknamed ‘Khazi’, after the Khazi of Kalabar, played by Kenneth Williams in Carry on the Kyber gave me a few ideas for more sketches. I sketched Williams as the Khazi, and then drew him as Julius Caesar in Carry On, Cleo, because that’s the movie I mostly remembered the flared nostrils and arched delivery from. I’m afraid neither of the sketches are exactly like Williams, though the sketch of the Khazi is the better of the two. Now that Truss has stabbed Kwarteng in the back, it seems particularly serendipitous that I did the sketch of Caesar, with the bug-eyes staring down at the protruding dagger. So, I’ve done a small sketch of Kwarteng as Caesar. Below that sketch is Coffey as the Butterball cenobite from Hellraiser. And after seeing the photo of Truss with the mad staring eyes and open mouth as if she’d just gone utterly bonkers on the cover of Private Eye, I couldn’t resist sketching her being dragged off to the psychiatric ward. I’d like to work some of these up into proper sketches later. I hope you like them.

Sketch of Truss, Kwarteng, Coffey and Friend

October 12, 2022

I made this sketch of the three leading Tories yesterday with a view to drawing a satirical version of them all later on. The figures underneath them is the Butterball cenobite from Clive Barker’s Hellraiser. I included him because I thought there was a certain similarity to Coffey. I based the picture of Truss from a photograph of her on the cover of last week’s Private Eye, which showed her in a pose that truly suggested she was wide-eyed and bonkers. She doesn’t always appear like that, obviously, but she’s still pretty bonkers.

The Amazing Art of Stuart Cowley’s ‘Spacewreck’

October 5, 2022

More utterly amazing space art from Sci-Fi Art’s channel on YouTube. In this very short video, he flips through Stuart Cowley’s Spacewreck: Ghostships and Derelicts of Space. Cowley took the art for various Science Fiction paperbacks and then wrote stories around them, publishing them as guidebooks to the spacecraft of the future produced by a global trade organisation, the Terran Trade Authority. I bought one of these when I was a schoolkid, Spacecraft 2000-2100, which pretended to be a guide to the spacecraft of the 21st century and with a story about humanity’s contact with two species of aliens from Alpha and Proxima Centauri respectively, and humanity’s and the Alpha Centaurian’s war with the latter. I can remember being absolutely amazed by the astonishingly beautiful art of these imaginary worlds and spaceships. Cowley published a series of such books and didn’t confine himself just to Science Fiction. He also created one from the cover art for a number of Horror novels as The Tourist’s Guide to Transylvania. Another book he produced was the alarmingly named Home Brain Surgery and Other Household Skills. I’ve seen a copy for sale in some secondhand book shops and left it meaning to buy it later. When I came back it had vanished. Which just shows that somehow you have to get something while you can. The artists featured in Spacewreck, according to Sci-Fi Art, include Angus McKie, Tony Roberts, Fred Gambino, Bob Layzell, Colin Hay, Jim Burns, Alan Daniels and the music is by All India Radio. I think some of their music has also been used for a video someone made of the spacecraft from Spacecraft 2000-2100 zooming around in CGI animation.