Thursday, September 27, 2007

Diggin' Through The Vault: Pt. 2 "Saved by a Toilet!"... oh, just read the post!

For this installment of the apparently quarterly feature "Diggin' Through The Vaults" I thought I'd showcase a couple of failed approaches to a spot illustration job.

About four years ago I was asked by a long-time governmental client to illustrate eight spot illos for an advertising campaign encouraging safe alternatives to the disposing of household chemicals, paints, pesticides, medications and other harmful substances into the wastewater system ( ie: down the toilet, sink, storm drain etc. ). The good news for me ( despite the tight deadline ) was that I could show the bad behavior that the client wanted to discourage. Bad behavior is always more fun to draw than good. So what you see below was my fist stab at the "Chronic Chemical User".

This enthusiastic fellow was supposed to embody the sort of person who overuses harsh household chemicals when cleaning the kitchen or bathroom. I had hit on the idea of the 1950's scandal / crime magazine-style black bar across the eyes for all the characters, and simply posed him in front of his bathroom sink madly poring cleaners down the sink. Although I liked the "caught in the act" look on Mr. CCC he looked more like he was engaged in cooking up a sink full of highly volatile drugs than cleaning his powder room, so I tried again....

This revised version made it clearer that he was in a bathroom and that proper cleaning products were being overused, but it just didn't convey the feeling of someone actually cleaning. Back to the drawing board ( literally! ).....

...Bingo! Simply switching from the sink to the toilet and adding rubber gloves changed the entire feeling of the illo. Add a few more cleaners, a roll of paper towels and the ol' stand-by tongue sticking out of side of mouth ( denoting concentration or effort don'tcha know! ) and I was set. The client approved the sketch, I slapped on some ink, threw in a few colours and this was the final result. The campaign worked well enough that a couple years ago I was asked to illustrate the now reformed characters for a new round of ads ( like this one! ).

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bionic Columbo

In lieu of any actual content today I'll post for your perusal something I noticed a couple of weeks ago. First, a screenshot from the opening title sequence of a childhood favourite The Six Million Dollar Man ( 1974 ).......

and from the "A Stitch in Time" episode of Columbo from 1973.........

Nice to see Hollywood was ahead of the recycling movement!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Featured Flickr

More Flickr fun from the 50's and 60's up now!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Me and the Cap'n : Episode 4 - All Good Things Must End

Late summer 1980 : things seemed to going fine in the world of Captain Canuck and me. I was enjoying the contents of my membership kit, and every two months a new issue of CC arrived in the mail wrapped in a swell illustrated mailer like the one above. The first CC Summer Special had come out followed by issues 12 and 13. A new logo, improved stories, both daily and colour weekend newspaper strips either starting or in the works and hints of bigger things to come. Sure... the second issue of the newsletter was a few months late, but that was a minor annoyance.

Well, March of 1981 brought Captain Canuck issue 14, but there was a lot more in this issue's envelope than normal, starting with the letter above stating that...

...Captain Canuck had been canceled!

I'm not privy to the whole story but it seems once again the higher costs of producing a quality comic book in Canada proved too much for the CKR team. Plans for selling public shares in the new "Captain Canuck Corporation", the completed issue 15, and the partially completed 1981 Summer Special were all shelved.
The world mourned. Alright, maybe not the world, but I was definitely disappointed.

As a consolation prize for the remaining issue(s) left on my subscription that I'd never receive I was sent some extra stickers and crests, the late ( and now out-of-date ) second newsletter with "CANCELED MAR. 1981" stamped in red throughout, and the first three weeks of what would have been a great daily newspaper strip autographed by George Freeman and Jean-Claude St. Aubin. Now that I think back, it's also possible I got the newspaper samples through CCC member #137 ( see Episode 3 ), but I'd like to remember it as a parting gift.

So ended my brief membership in the Captain Canuck Club, a fondly remembered eight or nine month period in late 1980 and early 1981. Captain Canuck was a fun comic book a few years ahead of it's time, and as a avid comic book geek and a proud Canadian I was glad to have had the opportunity to enjoy it while it lasted. For more information on CC in general, later incarnations of the Captain and info on the limited edition version of issue 15 that came out a few years ago check out D.K. Latta's CC tribute site.

HOWEVER.... Since I wouldn't want to leave this week of nostalgia-fying on a sad note I thought I'd end things by including this look through the wayback machine at a be-bellbottomed and sun-visored 12 year old me participating in a city sponsored mural event ( actually just a way of covering up the plywood surrounding a new hotel construction site ) in June of 1981. I guess the recent cancellation of the Captain Canuck comic had inspired me to try to create my own little tribute to CC. I'm not sure how long the painting lasted, a few months at least, but if it continued the legacy of the Captain Canuck legend just a little bit, I was happy.

As an aside... a week or two after I painted this, my Aunt informed me that vandals had defaced my CC painting adding, as she described it, "pubic hair" to the nether regions of my loving tribute. Horrified, I had my mom drive me down to the construction site, only to discover that what my aunt saw as graffitied "pubic hair" was in fact my attempt at shading in that particular area of Cap's costume!
I'm not sure if I was relieved or artistically deflated!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Me and the Cap'n : Episode 3

Continuing our ( and by "our" I of course mean "my", judging by the deluge of comments I'm getting on my riveting reminisces regarding that underwear-wearing champeen of the True North Strong and Free ) look at my short-lived membership in the Captain Canuck Club.

Return with us now to those thrilling days of summer 1980! The Empire Strikes Back had been out for a few months, Hill Street Blues and Magnum P.I. would debut in September and I'd be starting grade 7 in a new school shortly. But shoehorned in amongst those momentous events I received, via the fine folks at Canada Post, my CCC membership kit! Included in this cornucopia of costumed Canadian craziness was an autographed copy of Captain Canuck #10, the loot in my last post, and today's offerings.

For starters we see above a nice close-up of the official ( like anyone would bother making a knock-off! ) Captain Canuck Club membership button offered as an "Early Bird Bonus Gift" to members #500 to #1000 who joined the Club ( members #1 to 499 received "2 Metallic Foil Captain Canuck Stickers" ). I suspect, unfortunately, that the numbers may never have made it that high.
To set the record straight I must disclose that this actual button was supplied for our electronic enjoyment by CCC Member #137 and childhood chum, David. Thank you, kind sir.

The ad had said "personalized" welcoming letter ( which I did receive ) , but I was pleased that the first issue of what was supposed to be a quarterly newsletter was also personalized. It's that kind service that keeps the customers coming back! Did the bigwigs at Marvel personalize every issue of F.O.O.M they sent out? I think not!
Of course the fact that only two issues of the newsletter were ever sent out before CC was canceled takes some wind out of the sails of that argument. More on that in out next, and final ( was that a cheer I heard? ) installment.

Rounding out the kit we have here the two crests included in the membership. On the far right is a slightly older Richard Comely design with a George Freeman version in the middle. On the far left is the first, flocked stab at the newer crest. Despite the prevalence of perms and mustaches in 1980 I think the fuzzy look just didn't suit Cap that well.

Next time : Captain C bows out, parting gifts, and my attempt to continue the CC legacy on plywood. Stay tuned True Believers!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Me and the Cap'n : Episode 2 in late spring 1979 after a 3 year hiatus Captain Canuck returned to the stands. I happily picked up issue 4 since, despite the reduction in size and paper quality, the art had improved thanks to George Freeman and Jean Claude St - Aubin taking over the feature from Richard Comely. The fifth issue followed promptly in two months and I was hooked. By issue 7, at which time Freeman had taken over permanent art chores, I had sent away for my subscription. By issue 9 or 10 I went whole hog and sent in my $6.00 ( a couple weeks allowance, I think ) for my membership in the "All New CAPTAIN CANUCK Club ", or "CCC" to those of us in the know.

In addition to the "Personalized Wallet Sized Member's Card" ( only number 163 - and that included the original members from 1975! ) and the gold coloured sticker you see above I received ( among other items coming in my next couple of posts ) .........

.....a "Personalized 7" x 10" Membership Certificate Suitable For Framing". As the thumbtack holes attest to, this hung proudly on my 11 year old self's wall. Feel free to print this out full size, replacing my name with your own. You'll be the envy of everyone in your Dungeons and Dragons club!

I also mailed away at this time for a spiffy light blue CC t-shirt ( "youths $5.00 - adults $6.00" ). Being 11 or 12 I figured that "youth" was the size to go for. Unfortunately I should have chosen "adult" as within a few washings the aforementioned garment was too small to wear - and that was in 1980 when t-shirts were meant to be worn snug!

Around this time I stumbled across this 3-pack of issues 6, 7 and 8 at a local store. I already had the issues ( actually, at least a couple of each ) but since I was in high comic book collector gear I picked it up anyway.

Next time...... We continue our dorky look at the CCC swag! Buttons and patches and newsletters - oh my!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Me and the Cap'n : Episode 1 ( Wherein I reveal my past as a comic book nerd for the world to see! )

For the next week or so I'll be sharing a few of the items that survived my childhood interest in a fellow by the name of Captain Canuck. I'll be focusing more on my introduction to the Captain, his fan club and merchandise, so for an overview of the CC story be sure to visit the many CC fan sites out there, or creator Richard Comely's site and this gallery of CC covers. I've also just found out that comic collector / dealer supreme Doug Sulipa has a large number of vintage Captain Canuck items available for sale.

Like many kids in the mid - 1970's I bought ( or more accurately my Dad bought for me ) 25 or 30 cent comics books on a regular basis. Most Sundays we'd stop by our local well-stocked newsstand and peruse the fine offerings of illustrated juvenile literature. I'd inevitably depart with a Richie Rich comic or two and chuckle at the wacky hijinks and high adventures that Richie and his pals would get themselves into.
May of 1977 changed that when, after having my mind blown by a little-remembered cinema selection by the name of Star Wars, I started picking up the Marvel comics adaptation of the movie, which lead me to Marvel comics and superheroes in general, and a comic book nerd was born.
Sometime between early '77 and early '79 my Dad and I were visiting Macleods, a now-defunct hardware / department store chain, when we noticed a number of plastic-packaged comic books in the kid's colouring / activity book section. On closer inspection I realized that this appeared to be a CANADIAN superhero! My Dad, by now always on the lookout for investment opportunities in the quickly expanding collector comics field, decided that we'd not only pick up one of the 3-packs of these colourful creations, but the store's entire stock of 15 or 20 of these "Special Collector's Packs"! The fact that Macleod's had marked down the price to 99 cents didn't hurt either.

In addition to the first three issues ( published in 1975-76 ) of this unusual comic the pack came with an offer of other merchandise and a card-stock "3-D Table Top Diorama" ( illustration by the amazing George Freeman, more on him later ) that you were to colour and cut out. Being the newly-fledged comic book geek I was I didn't want to decrease the value of this obvious future gold mine. So I never actually cut one out and tried it...

...that is until sometime in the mid to late 1980's! Why, you ask, would someone who by that point had given up comic book collecting finally try out this kid's activity? Your guess is as good as mine! Maybe I wanted to try out the new markers I was using in my burgeoning part time illustration endevours. Maybe I realized by that point that these plastic-packed blasts from the past were never going to be worth a hundred dollars each. Who knows! Just sit back and wallow in the wildness that is the Captain Canuck 3-D Table Top Diorama!

Next time.....The return of the Captain!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Back to School!

Don't delay, act today - the latest issue of Kayak magazine is hitting the stands now!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Vintage Animation Backgrounds : Redux

Part one of this series to be found HERE

A month ago I posted some stitched-together animation backgrounds from It's Everybody's Business. Be sure to revisit that post for the details on this swell 1954 industrial film. Since reaction was positive I thought I'd share a few more, as well as two from Chuck Jones' Gay Purr-ee (1962 ).

As with the last batch the IEB images featured here are grabbed from The Internet Archive's public domain copy, so quality is not the best. Due to the particularities of the pans some areas of the image may also be missing or doubled. You get what you pay for!

Since Gay Purr-ee ( above and below ) is still a fan favourite, and available on DVD I suggest you pick up a copy and enjoy it's great design yourself.

The Golden Books version released at the time of the movie is also top-notch! ( illos by Golden Books ringer Al White. Book courtesy of Eric Sturdevant ). Even the Gold Key comic book adaption ( illustrated by animation vet Pete Alvarado ) is one of the best of it's kind. And to finish things Rhono Records has rereleased the original soundtrack ( featuring Judy Garland, Robert Goulet and animation and old time radio favourite Paul Frees ) on cd.

Gay Purr-ee's art director, Vic Haboush was the production designer on Destination Earth ( 1956 ) one of our subjects for the next animation background installment in a month or so. Be sure to explore Cartoon Modern for more information and some wonderful examples of Mr. H's work.

...and so a toast to the talented art and production designers responsible for the inspirational work above!
Thanks for stopping by.


Thursday, September 6, 2007

Mommy - I think the rinse cycle on our washing machine is broken...

I've scrubbed-up another half-dozen classic vintage magazine illustrations over at the Flickr-O-Mat.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Doff your fez for the workers!

It's Labour Day today in Canada and the U.S. ( well... Labor Day actually in the U.S. ) so I thought I'd mark the occasion with a completely unrelated update to my "Collector's Corner" set at Flickr. Hooboy!... if you like goofy service group headwear, amputated space travellers or vintage department store audio equipment today's your lucky day!
If not - then I wouldn't buy a lottery ticket or go skydiving right now.