Richard Williams' Christmas Carol

For some of my generation as kids, this 1971 animated version of Dicken's Christmas Carol by Richard Williams was their first telling of the story. My memories are hazy but it seemed to air every hour on weekends during the holidays back then. Nowadays it's forgotten, rarely seen on TV anymore. This film influenced my work in many ways especially with the most horrific interpretations of the spirits "Ignorance" and "Want" ever created which, no pun intended, haunted me for years.

In four parts....

Tandem Doodling

When spending time with niece Devin, we often like to draw together. In the past few months we've had fun tandem doodling in my sketchbook. We pick a subject and draw our own versions of it. Sometimes at the same time or sometimes taking turns not seeing each other's work till done.

Last weekend was a holiday themed session...

Mini Wreaths

I've been neglecting the blog for a little while, but no more. I hope to make up for it by overloading this Christmas week with lot's of holiday stuff. One of many favorite projects I've made working as the Family Fun "how to" videos craft stylist over the past few years was making these mini wreaths. They're great tree ornaments. What I like most about them, besides being easy and cheap, is the possibility to create so many variations of with different things and personalize for someone as a small gift. Here's the link: Make a Mini Wreath

Thursday Inspiration: Berkeley Breathed

I first discovered Berkeley Breathed's comic strip BLOOM COUNTY as a freshman at RISD. I quickly became addicted to it and for awhile, all my cartooning was heavily influenced by Breathed. Not just his drawing style, but also his humor, layout and pacing. I think you can still see some of it in my stuff now and again. To my happy surprise that year, he was a guest speaker at nearby Brown University one night. It was a very inspiring evening.

I found this series of videos of a recent talk he gave at the Long Beach Comic -Con. Like that night back in the 80's, he has many funny anecdotes, opinions, insights and work lessons to share.

Santa's Mailbox

Although I would be happy making Halloween props straight through December and all the way to next October, I also enjoy Christmas decorating. Above is a fun prop project I designed and made while working on the holiday episode of HGTV's Outer Spaces back in 2005.

The decorating theme was Santa's workshop, so having his mailbox at the end of the front walk was a must. It's something I might re-create for my home this year.

All the materials were from Lowe's Hardware (no relation) and Michael's Arts & Crafts. A redwood 4" x 4" fence post was cut down to about 3' high and attached to a pre-cut plywood round base so it would free stand. The mailbox was just an ordinary, inexpensive one and secured to the top of the post by two decorative ivy metal shelf brackets. The other scrolling details are glued on craft wood appliques ( Santa's initials as well).

The reindeer is one of those unpainted paper mache craft items. I cut the body in half so it would sit flat on top. It was tricky matching the curve of the mailbox so I hid the gaps/seams by covering them with some small plastic holly leaves. The tail is also a wood applique. The whole thing was primed and then, if I remember right, given numerous extra thick coats of brush-on hammered texture bronze paint, finished with a few light dusting's of gold spray paint, hitting the raised areas.

All the letters are cut pieces of colored "Fun Foam". The stamps are various scrapbooking stickers. Leaning against the post was a mail bag stuffed with similar made letters. Having some spilled out on the ground helped hide the base.

I found these photos on the HGTV website. I think I have some better ones somewhere and hope to update if I find them.

Guillotine Parking Only

Another Thanksgiving day with Halloween yet to store away. I'm such a procrastinator that I haven't even gotten around to creating the excuses as to why it's still just sitting there. Sadly, taking a picture like this is becoming an annual tradition. This was Thanksgiving last year...

Well, it could be worse. You know, like leaving a giant rubber creature or something hanging all year on the bathroom wall from 2008's party decorating. That would be really lazy...oh...wait...nevermind.

A happy Thanksgiving to all.

Big Blog Fans

Today, I was surprised to discover what loyal and regular readers of this blog I have. They contacted me this morning concerned if everything was okay because I'd not posted anything in a few weeks. So to them I write...

Dear Mom and Dad,

Everything is great, just distracted by other things. I'll get back to posting regularly today. Anything I can bring for Thanksgiving dinner?


Dr. Ted-enstein Saves Halloween '09

My past annual Halloween night routine for Trick or Treater's has been being the Frankenstein monster sitting silent and motionless like a dummy in an electric chair. I'd give 'em a BOO scare as they reach for the candy bucket. An old bit, but never fails to work and lots of fun.

When I got the flu, I had a momentary worry knowing some kids might expect the same fun as usual and I didn't want to disappoint. Before I even asked, my brother Ted called and volunteered to be this year's scare maker and treat giver.

Ted had a good idea, he'd return as the Dr. Frankenstein character he played for my niece's Halloween party last year and the monster would actually be a dummy he would move holding it's back.

Was Dr. Ted-enstein a hit? You tell me...

Now, experience it as many of our visitors did all night...

Two days ago, I thought it was going to be a mediocre, blah year, but it turned out to be one of the best. I'm happy to say niece Devin reached the all important non-contagious flu stage feeling a bit better. She was able to visit and get some trick 'r treating in.

A huge thank you to my brother Ted for making it a great, great night and a Halloween to remember.

Happy Halloween To All

Almost every Halloween it's practically become tradition that some adult, at some point, will mention that a zombie's face is looking at the ground and not at them or some other detail in the decor is lost from their perspective.

I smile knowing they may be forgetting...this day should be seen through a child's eyes.

2 Days 'Til Halloween - No Trick and Certainly No Treat

Upon the evening of the 31st when all is quiet, listen carefully. Somewhere in the distance you may hear mournful, ghostly howling and wailing. Tormented spirits? Banshees? Werewolves?


That will be my niece Devin and I, quarantined in a forgotten room, far away from everyone.

We've both been diagnosed with swine flu. Yep, just 48 hours before the big day. You've heard of the fury of a woman scorned, haven't you? Well, that's nothing compared to the fury of an uncle and his niece cheated out of tricks or treats.

4 Days 'Til Halloween - Errrrrrrg....

High winds across the San Fernando Valley all day and still going this evening have started to beat up the yard pretty good. The display was holding up well for most of it, but as of an hour ago, one tombstone has blown away into the darkness. Two foam pumpkins were found in a neighbor's yard. Zombie joints have snapped. The spider web is getting tangled. Some lights have spun backwards illuminating the street.

All is nothing to stress over and easily fixed, but if it keeps up, tomorrow morning should really be a scary sight. Moments like this can bring happy accidents. This spider victim had a hand holding a candy bucket.
It fell off during some gust getting caught in the web. Now it looks extra disturbing...
Oh! Did I mention Jason has antlers now?

5 Days 'Til Halloween -Smashed

It came out of nowhere, sending his noggin flying.
Now he keeps vigilant for the guilty pumpkin smasher...

8 Days 'Til Halloween - Creepy Graveyard Details

My niece Devin came over to help decorate yesterday. We decided to add extra details like creepy weeds and moss dangling from the chains in the graveyard. It was turning out pretty good for being on the cheap with what I had in the material stash. I thought it would make a simple tip to share and write a "how to" about later. To my surprise though, while getting some video of the work in progress, Devin explained the project far better than I could ever type it. I think she may be watching too many shows on HGTV and Food Network.

So please welcome niece Devin as my very special "how to" expert guest for the day....

She did most of the work herself, from cutting the raffia and mixing the paint wash, to placing all the details just right with her growing artistic eye. I'm one lucky uncle to have such talented help.

10 Days 'Til Halloween -Peter Pumpkin the Tricker Treater Eater

All children know to look for the spooky, glowing, smiling face of a Jack- O-Lantern outside homes on Halloween. They know this means candy is waiting to be had. They know to say "Trick or treat" when asking for. But do they know to say "Thank you"? They should. It's polite and very rude not to.

All children who don't say "Thank you" beware. Peter Pumpkin the Tricker Treater Eater waits at the end of the walk and he hates rude children...

I would of been remiss in my decorating this year if I didn't make a prop based on my 31 Days of Halloween logo. Peter Pumpkin originated in a Para Abnormal cartoon from 2008.

11 Days 'Til Halloween - Hermetic Spectre Observation Receptacle

This Victorian era, Hermetic Spectre Observation Receptacle is the newest acquisition to my cabinet of curiosities. It was state of the art ghost hunting equipment in the late 1800's. Once a spirit was caught, the handle on the lid was turned, vacuum sealing it inside. They're very rare to find in working condition, let alone, still containing the trapped apparition I'm happy to say mine does.

Unfortunately, by nature of the receptacle's construction and mystical formula to the glass keeping the spirit trapped, any communication with it is impossible. It seems very content though, especially glowing with happiness in darker rooms.

The ghost is painted on clear acetate in Krylon GLOWZ spray using a stencil made from blue painter's tape. It's painted more opaque at the top of the image so it seems to dissipate at the bottom. The acetate was cut from a portfolio sleeve to fit inside a kitchen storage container/jar. It's thick enough to support itself in the center with just it's edges pressed against the sides without glue or tape. There is a slight curve in it, but that helps add a bit of dimension when seen from other angles.

For the lid, I detailed the original one with stuff from my stash. The handle is a brass doorknob with a old sink handspray holder for it's base. I glued on ornate brass tack tops around the edge after snipping off the nails.

12 Days 'Til Halloween - His Long Sleep Is Over

Count Orlock has resurfaced from last Halloween.

His new zombie shades of green have all the graveyard gossiping he's had some work done. Even Mrs. Scaryweather noted he looked 700 years young again.

14 Days 'Til Halloween - The Night They Came Home

Mr. Myers and Mr. Voorhees staked their spots on the lawn today. While Michael stands stoic by a front window waiting for Trick or Treaters...

Jason prefers the shadows, behind a hedge. All the better to hack...cough!... greet them walking down the sidewalk.

15 Days 'Til Halloween - Disneyland Week Ends With A Contest.

My week long Disneyland: Halloweentime theme week concludes with six photos. What I like about these pics is they're not seasonal decorating in the park, just Halloween feeling things that can be found all year, anytime.

I thought it'd be fun to have a contest. For each picture guess...what it is and where is it in Disneyland? The more details the better, no need to go crazy though, the exact paint color code number from some Imagineering design plan not important. The winner or winners will get their name(s) hidden in a PARA ABNORMAL cartoon next Friday, Oct 23.

Leave your answers as a comment. If you post anonymously, add the name you'd like to appear at the end of your comment (nothing vulgar okay, somewhat G rated). Contest closes at 11:59 pm Wednesday Oct 21. Winner's announced next Thursday. Good luck!

16 Days 'til Halloween - Disneyland Window Displays

WARNING: the possible side effect of re-doing some Halloween props and decorating you've already done this year has been reported after viewing these pictures.

People experiencing this symptom more than 4 days should just move on to Christmas decorating because there's nothing I see in the pictures not possible by anyone.

Sure the Disney folk have access to one heck of of prop closet but that's a collection built up in time. Everything below is good staging and dressing. Even the custom props are simply made or inexpensive ones with extra touches. As in the witch's hat. It's just an ordinary costume one found everywhere with some added ribbon and jewelry. Being displayed well in a great setting makes it appear special. Even that fantastic looking spell book seemed to be just an aged up thick dictionary with the two visible pages pasted in.

Getting that inspired rush from a great display, studying the details and learning from is addictive.