Archive for April, 2010

San Diego Union Tribune Article

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Robert L. Pincus, chief arts editor for The San Diego Union Tribune, interviewed me on my last trip down to the San Diego Natural History Museum. Bob is a great guy with an enormous range of cultural interests. He wrote a beautiful front page article for last Sunday’s (April 25, 2010) newspaper based upon our interview. You can check it out at http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/apr/25/jurassic-art/

Robert must have a near photographic memory. Our conversation touched on so many different subjects, yet his observations remained amazingly precise.

My only correction would be to one of the pull-out quotes. My teaching philosophy is pretty much the opposite of what appears in the article. Here’s how it should have read:

I use the “Chouinard method” of teaching art. That is, I look at what you’re trying to achieve and help you to be better at that. I want you to be the best you that you can be. I have no desire to teach people to mimic my stuff.

Technique is one of the least important things one can be taught in art. It’s also one of the easiest. I began my career as an art mimic. I was known for being able to duplicate any style. I tell my students that style is relatively unimportant, that I can teach them how to do any style in about ten minutes. That’s an exaggeration — but not by much.

Drawing, creativity and problem solving — now those are three important things that are well worth teaching — and learning.

Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Six appearances, six weekends in a row — Whew!

I’m happy to say this six weekend run ended with a bang. The Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo was incredible. I had one of the best times there that I’ve ever enjoyed at a convention.

I flew into Calgary from LAX on Friday. Our driver to our hotel, Steve, is a friend/fan of mine. At the hotel Steve loaded us up with huge bags of Cadbury’s samples (Steve works for the well-renowned candy company). It was an early flight so I had some time to see a bit of the city that afternoon and evening. I made some new friends, four great young artists who were on my flight that I met at our Air Canada gate: Joe Weatherly, David Colman, Fabian Molina and Mark McDonnell, awesome drawers all.

We decided to meet in the lobby after we checked into our rooms at the wonderful Hotel Arts and go out for a drink.

The Hotel Arts reminded me of many of the hip, enchanting hotels I stayed in on my last trip to Europe. There was lots of art all throughout the hotel.

So, these young Turks of film and animation design met me in the lobby and we wandered over to a few of their favorite Calgary watering holes. Every pub we visited had Guinness on tap, so I was a happy camper. Plus, the company was great: four smart, young talented and funny guys. We were having such a good time that we all decided to have dinner together at a terrific nearby steakhouse. My chipotle sirloin was indeed incredible. A few more pints of Guinness and Kilkenny at some more pubs afterward and we were all ready to meander back to our hotel.

The guys invited me to join them for breakfast the following morning. More fun and laughter ensued in the AM and then we took off for the Expo.

I was not prepared for what met me at Saturday’s show. The attendance was amazing — the convention broke their two day record in that single day, with over 10,000 attendees. Every third or fourth person who came to my large two-table corner booth told me that they had come to the show just to see me. That was so unexpected and gratifying! I had no idea I had that many fans in that region of Canada. Some of them drove for days just to meet me and have me sign one of their books. I could scarcely believe the warm reception I got.

The show itself was extremely professionally run; one of the best organized conventions I’ve ever been to, actually.

The fans who were new to my work were just as gracious as my long time followers. Now that I somewhat expected, this being Canada, a country famous for the politeness, generosity and down-to-earth openness and friendliness of their citizens. Nevertheless, I enjoyed and appreciated every single second of their many kindnesses.

My booth was right next to my good ol’ friend Iain McCaig. If California ever faces another blackout, all the state would really have to do to solve their problems would be to plug in to Iain for an hour or so. Iain is perhaps the most high energy, enthusiastic artistic soul I’ve ever encountered. We met on the Conran brothers version of the John Carter of Mars film. Upon meeting Iain, I felt as if I had just found the long lost brother I never knew I had. Sharing his booth was artist and entrepreneur extraordinaire Robert Gould. Next to them was my pal Brom. It was like Murderer’s Row in that aisle!

At 2:00 PM on Saturday Brom and I gave an extremely well attended (packed, actually) workshop lecture, the subject of which was “Insight on Traditional Painting.” The audience seemed incredibly smart; their questions were all interesting, thoughtful and provocative. The response to our answers was enthusiastic, positively resonating throughout both days of the show.

After a great day at the Expo, we decided to all have dinner together. The amazingly talented Craig Elliott joined us.

Iain, Robert, Brom, Craig and I dined at one of the best Indian restaurants in Calgary. Although the food and service were outstanding, the high point of that meal for me was the conversation: Five really smart, talented guys having a deep 4:00 AM type conversation about life, death, art, business, the future, sex, motivation, out of body experiences and a myriad of other heavy subjects — except that the conversation became deep, entertaining and heavy right off the bat at about 8:00 PM rather than at 4:00 AM. It was hours and hours of sheer enjoyment and wonder my friends; I have not enjoyed an experience like this in years.

The next morning we all got back together for breakfast. The Sunday show was a little calmer than the previous day which made for a very relaxing yet still busy show. Financially, I did better in those two days than during all of the much larger three day shows of WonderCon and Chiller, taking home an empty suitcase and just three of my 50 Convention Sketches books.

I rode to the airport with Erin Gray (we were both involved with Buck Rogers; she played Colonel Wilma and I did design work on the TV series) and actor Tony Todd.

At Calgary’s airport I ran into my old friend Len Wein and saw Leonard Nimoy and Billy Dee Williams. I also bumped into the young posse once again, joining them and their friend Marcelo Vignali with whom I worked on Walt Disney’s Dinosaur. I was seated next to the talented Marcelo on the flight. Our conversation and passion for art, music, animation and film made the trip back to LAX pass like a brief, wonderful dream.

Thank you, Kandrix, for inviting me to Calgary. The time I had at your convention was unforgettable.

And folks, if you ever get a chance to go to a future Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo, do not pass on that chance for anything.

ELP + Calgary

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

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The cover I drew for Emerson Lake & Palmer has been made public. If you’re a student of ELP, you’ll recognize all of the elements comprising this picture. If you don’t, just ask.

Unfortunately, the title lettering has been boxed, screwing up my design. I’ve asked for it to be fixed but it may have already gone to press. Anyway, here’s what it should look like — without the title. If the title gets fixed and loses it’s awful box, the title lettering should be reversed out against the art, rather than being confined to a box.

Tomorrow I take off for Calgary and one of my favorite countries, Canada. I’ll be appearing as a guest at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo this Saturday and Sunday. I’m also hoping to hit one of Calgary’s great CD shops and stock up on my Canadian music and, hopefully, a plethora of UK imports made possible by the close ties still maintained by Canada with the UK.

So, why do I love Canada so much? Well, there’s the legendary Canadian politeness, for one (Here’s my only Canadian joke: Q: How do you get twelve Canadians out of a swimming pool? A: Ask, “Could you all please leave the pool?”). There is the French influence that makes even the simplest of Canadian food an incredible treat. There is the access to Canadian and UK music which I just mentioned. Dinosaur Provincial Park is one of the most incredible places in the world to encounter dinosaur fossils. The Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller is a dinosaur and natural history lover’s joy to behold.

The Glenbow Institute in Calgary has the world’s finest collection of paintings by Carl Rungius, moose painter and plein air painter par excellence. The National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa gave me a private showing of their drawings by one of my favorite animal artists, Henri Deluermoz. Their collection also includes the finest Gustav Klimt painting I’ve ever seen. Last October I saw the greatest collection ever assembled of the paintings of John William Waterhouse at the Mus√©e des Beaux-Arts in Montreal.

The wholesomely healthy and beautiful Scottish-blooded BC women are rivaled only by the French-Canadian lasses from Quebec. Sigh…

They have national healthcare, too. And although gun ownership is on par with the U. S., for some reason Canadians aren’t as likely to shoot each other as we are. Too mellow from the beer? Or the BC Bud?

And did I mention that the people are really, really nice?

I look forward to seeing my friends across the 49th parallel on Saturday and Sunday.

Chiller: As Amazing As Ever!

Monday, April 19th, 2010

I’m still wiped out from the Chiller Theatre show this last weekend (and all of the flying) but I had to write a quick post on that great show.

I flew from LAX with a planeload of celebrities, including my friend Camille Keaton, my new friends Bobby (Robert) Carradine and his wife Edie, as well as Sally Kellerman and Jennifer Carpenter, among many, many others.

I haven’t been back to Chiller since 2004, so I was curious as to how it might have changed. It’s in a different location, for one.

The Parsippany Hilton is a terrific venue for the show. I was given my own HUGE board room to exhibit and sell my art, books, t-shirts and prints. With all that space it was easy to relax and chat with fans both old and new. Alice Cooper and my friends Ken Kelly, Stephen Blickenstaff and Ted Bohus were in the same hall with me. The next CD cover I’m doing for Shout! Factory is for an Alice Cooper box set. I was so inspired that I came up with a rough for it at the show.

The Saturday night concert is now indoors and no longer out in the freezing cold. Yay!

Chris Palmerini and Kevin Clements (the show’s organizer), lead guitar player and rhythm guitar player respectively for The Dead Elvi, invited me to perform with The Elvi on Saturday night, which I did with great relish and enthusiasm. A big, well-lubricated crowd almost always makes for a perfectly receptive audience. Despite my lack of practice prior to the event, I was well received. It was all about all of us having fun, anyway, wasn’t it? It was!

I saw lots of old and new Right Coast friends and fans. I couldn’t believe the reception I got; it was so warm and loving. Thank you, everyone, for all of your kind words and hugs!

Frank Frazetta, Jr. came by to see me on Sunday. It’s incredibly sad what he, his dad and his family have been going through since Ellie Frazetta’s passing. I wish them all a happy and satisfying resolution to this current mess. I offered to objectively and fairly help them in any way I can. This should be a golden period in Frank Senior’s life. He should be enjoying his grandkids and the continuing accolades he so richly deserves.

I was shattered to hear from Kevin that Frank recently destroyed one of his greatest masterpieces. Sadly, I don’t believe it has ever been photographed, nor was it ever publicly shown. I am so glad he showed it to me years ago. I wish he had consulted me before his decision.

The work I’m talking about was drawn and painted in the late 1950s/early 1960s. It’s a hilarious comic book story (about 8 pages as I recall) involving a comely buxom blond sexually cavorting with a group of well-endowed African natives. Yes, it’s graphically pornographic in nature — but it’s also very, very funny and extremely playful in a sweet innocent sense, despite the nature of the goings on. Ellie told me she was going to burn it, as she felt it “would destroy Frank’s reputation.” If anything, it would have enhanced Frank’s reputation. It was the finest rendering I’ve ever seen Frank do — and if you know Frazetta’s work, that’s really saying something! Imagine an eight page full color comic book story by Frazetta with every single panel rendered in watercolor in a humorous version of the detailed style of his masterpiece “Golden Girl.”

Well, sadly, at last, Frank apparently bought into Ellie’s “this will destroy the Frazetta legacy” argument and tore the entire story into tiny, irretrievable bits. A tragic ending for one of Frank’s true gems. Frank— please don’t do that to the rest of your personal erotica! It’s as harmless as it is absolutely¬† charming! I don’t think that most of even the most hardcore fundamentalist of Christians would object to this beautiful, funny, and sweetly sexy stuff of yours. And, if they did — Who Cares?

I got to return to the Newark airport with Caroline Munro’s beautiful daughter. I was greeted by Bobby and Edie Carradine at the airport; we had the same flight back.

This spring’s Chiller was even more fun than I had remembered. I look forward to many, many more!

This coming weekend: Calgary!

Hello, New Joizey!

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

I look forward to seeing all of my Right Coast fans this weekend at the Chiller Theatre show in New Jersey. It’s been six years since I was at Chiller. I can’t wait to see the (new) Dead Elvi!

What a Monsterpalooza!

Monday, April 12th, 2010

WOW! Monsterpalooza had twice the attendance of last year. I saw loads of great old friends (Guillermo del Toro, Rick Baker, nearly the entire cast of The Return of the Living Dead, Mick Garris, The Chiodo Brothers, Taylor White, Shannon Shea, Frank Dietz, Tony Gardner, Bernie Wrightson and loads more!) and made some new ones (it turns out J J Abrams is a fan of my work; I’m honored, J J!).

John Wrightson debuted his Uncle Creepy film at the show. Congratulations, John — ya done good! I saw a cool stop motion animated Uncle Creepy short by my pals, the lovable Chiodo Brothers. They are nearly single-handedly keeping that Harryhausen tradition alive with work that is exciting, charming, funny and full of life. Keep up the great work, guys!

The 25th anniversary of The Return of the Living Dead was celebrated at the show with an hour long cast & crew Q & A, plus a screening of the film’s rare Bloopers reel. It’s not technically a bloopers reel, as a lot of it was filmed and scripted by members of the TROTLD crew for our own amusement. A screening of our little cult classic followed.

I sounded pretty awful throughout the weekend; my voice was shot from so many back-to-back convention appearances (with more lined up this month). Sorry!

The Monsterpalooza show has replaced the beloved Mad Model Party in a grand fashion. Besides being the coolest monster show on the West Coast, it’s extremely well run and organized (Thank You, Eliot!). Don’t miss next year’s show!

MONSTERPALOOZA!

Friday, April 9th, 2010

I’m looking forward to seeing all of my monster movie friends and fans at Monsterpalooza in Burbank. The show begins this evening at 6:00 PM and continues all day Saturday and Sunday.

It’s a great show, filled with nearly all of the Special Effects and Special Makeup Effects people in this town. They’re bringing incredible displays of their work.

One of the events this show is celebrating is the 25th anniversary of The Return of the Living Dead. Most of the cast will be at the show (as well as Mr. Split Dog/Half Corpse himself, my friend and Special Makeup Effects whiz Tony Gardner). We’re going to do a Q & A at 7:00 PM on Saturday night, followed by a screening of The Return of the Living Dead.

I exhibited last year at the first Monsterpalooza and was very impressed by the thorough professionalism of the convention. It reminded me of the great old Mad Model Party shows.

I’ll be set up once again with a booth, selling my art, prints and books. Stop by for a preview of my new 2011 Zombie calendar I’ve got coming out this fall. Or just attend to have a lot of big time monster fun!

Next Weekend: Chiller Theatre!

WonderCon #2: Dinosaur Discoveries Hardcover SOLD OUT!

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

The limited signed hardcover edition of Dinosaur Discoveries is now officially sold out! My publisher (Flesk Publications) and I sold our last copies this weekend at WonderCon in San Francisco.

The convention was a huge success with about 35,000 attendees. I roomed with Mark Schultz. Although he is my arch enemy, Mark is a great cuddler. It was great to be able to spend so much time with him, something that’s become increasingly difficult (if not impossible) for me to do with Mark or anyone at Comic-Con. And, he has a great new little book out from Flesk Publications: Blue Book. Don’t miss it!

Our booths (William Stout, Inc. and Flesk Publications) were right next to each other. On the other side of my booth was the ever wonderful Stuart Ng Books. If you have any interest in illustrated books, art books or finely drawn European comics (I stocked up on new Moebius books), then you need to know about Stuart. A passionate art and art book collector himself, Stuart’s prices are very fair and he operates his business with the utmost integrity. Take a look at a sample of what Stuart has to offer on his website: www.stuartngbooks.com

I want to also publicly thank James (who regularly pitches in for Flesk Publications) for watching my booth whenever I had to leave it and for helping me pack it up at the end (and thanks to Stuart Ng and his folks for helping me to quickly pack up). James, you’re a good guy!

We had some amazing meals up in San Francisco. They were so good I won’t refer to that city as “Frisco” even once in this entry. John Fleskes, Mark Schultz and I had great sushi at MK. A large group of us (including my friend, writer/filmmaker Samantha Holmes) indulged ourselves at The Slanted Door (we avoided the three week waiting list for reservations thanks to Steve, our host). My son James, Bud Plant, John Fleskes and more enjoyed a great meal at Maya (sort of fusion/Mexican). The pork belly tacos and filet mignon tacos were the best pork and beef tacos I’ve ever had.

Mark and I had a series of breakfasts at Mel’s Diner. I particularly enjoyed the company of Jim Silke one morning at Mel’s.

A highlight of the show for me was getting a wee bit of face time with the legend himself, Joe Kubert, when his talented son Adam brought him over to my booth. Joe and I not only share a love for drawing dinosaurs but the same birthday (September 18) as well. We’ve mutually admired each others’ work for years. Joe and I first met at the San Diego Comic Convention in the mid 1970s. Joe just keeps getting better and better. This hard working and talented guy continues to be a real inspiration to me.

I sought out Frank Cho and complimented him on maintaining his high quality output of work and ran into my fellow good lizard man Arthur Adams as well.

Sorry, Howie, you missed a good one! I hope you avoided the bulls!