Happy Mother’s Day! Great Gift Ideas Here!

May 10th, 2020

Happy Mom’s Day! In this bizarre new world we’re living in, you may be stuck for some idea as to what to give Mom for Mother’s Day.

Everything has changed. Nearly all of my conventions have cancelled, including my biggie, Comic Con International, where I make about 20% of my annual income. I can weather that storm, but I fear that some of the people who work with me can’t.

You may have noticed some of the cool T-shirts I’ve been wearing at shows. I officially license World of Strange to produce and sell T-shirts with my imagery on them. When I’m at a show in their area, we usually team up in the selling of my shirts. Ben and Tracy of World of Strange are two of the hardest working, kindest and most generous people in my life.

So, if you’re stuck for an idea as to what to give your mom, please visit their site: https://www.worldofstrange.com/collections/william-stout

You’ll find all kinds of cool shirts in all sizes. Pick one up for your mom, then get a few for yourself. High quality shirts with great, crisp printing. Then spread the word! You won’t be sorry.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Great News for Horror Fans!

May 5th, 2020

One of the best — and most difficult to see — re-tellings of the Frankenstein story is now available on YouTube — but only until 7:00 PM (London time) on May 7 (Cumberbatch’s last performance as The Creature) and May 8 (Miller’s last performance as The Creature).

In 2011 England’s Royal National Theatre put on a production of Frankenstein starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller. One played Dr. Frankenstein; the other played The Creature. Then, the next night they switched roles. This alternate night switching went on for the run of the play. This stage production was directed by the great Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slum Dog Millionaire). The brilliant adaptation of Mary Shelley‘s novel, told from The Creature’s point-of-view, is by Nick Dear.

The original stage production was presented live simultaneously in movie theaters all over the United States. One could watch Cumberbatch play The Creature one night, and then the next night one could return to the theater to see Miller perform as The Creature. It was so successful that there were very limited encore screenings in 2012 and 2013. I missed those.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller shared both the Olivier Award and London Evening Standard Award for Best Actor for their respective performances. Cumberbatch also won the Critic’s Circle Theatre Awards’ Best Performance by an Actor in a Play. The play also won the Olivier Award for Best Lighting for the filament light bulb installation designed by Bruno Poet. In 2018, the 200th anniversary of the novel, there was an encore presentation of both versions during Halloween week (we weren’t told in advance which version we’d be seeing). My wife and I caught the Miller-as-The-Creature version. It was absolutely brilliant. My wife (a former actress) declared it to be one of the finest and best-written plays she’d ever scene. Unfortunately, we saw the final screening, so seeing the other version and telling our friends to catch it…well, we were too late.

I kept on the lookout, though. On April 30, as a treat and gift from the Royal National Theatre for all of us COVID-19 sequestered individuals, a filmed version of the play with Cumberbatch as The Creature was released to YouTube with the Miller-as-Creature version debuting the following night (May 1). We watched the Cumberbatch-as-Creature version last night. Incredible! And now you can binge on both back-to-back! Lucky you!

It’s fascinating to watch both versions and observe the differences.

Be sure to catch Benedict Cumberbatch’s two-and-a-half minute introduction to the play elsewhere on YouTube.

My only regret is that, as far as I know, my Frankenstein obsessive pal Bernie Wrightson never got to see either version. I hope I’m wrong!

Untold Tales of Hollywood #46

April 8th, 2020

Here’s Fred Dekker‘s terrific story of Godzilla in a nutshell (a slight edit of the Wikipedia description):

A meteorite collides with an American defense satellite which triggers a nuclear missile to launch towards the Earth. The missile detonates in the middle of the South Pacific, which awakens a giant reptilian creature on the ocean floor. A Japanese fishing vessel is towed to San Francisco for examination after it recently disappeared. Journalist Dana Martin sneaks onto the ship and finds a perfectly preserved trilobite and a burnt survivor whose last words are “Gojira”.

Martin takes the trilobite to paleobiologist and dinosaur expert, Gerald Balinger, who seems skeptical about the fossil’s authenticity. On Oto Island in Tahiti, an American Special Forces squad comes into contact with a giant reptilian monster, who lays waste to nearby villages. Navy Colonel Peter Daxton leads an investigation off the coast of Mexico for a mysteriously sunken Russian submarine. The investigation is secretly being observed by Russian spies and Daxton’s old enemy, Boris Kruschov, who wishes to retrieve the sub’s two nuclear missiles.

Daxton finds a video onboard which reveals that the sub fired one of the missiles on a giant reptilian creature. The missiles are then taken into military custody pending negotiations with Russia. Daxton returns home to San Francisco and his son, Kevin, only to be called back for another mission. Daxton, Kevin, and Balinger are taken to Baja, Mexico where the carcass of a reptile “the size of a house” has washed ashore. Daxton recognizes it as the same creature from the video.

Balinger theorizes that the creature is a dinosaur, however, the military disregard his theories and assume it came from another planet. As Balinger and Kevin watch the military transport the body, Balinger names the creature “Godzilla”, based on an old Japanese myth about a dragon. Off the coast of California, the adult Godzilla surfaces and destroys an oil derrick and a tanker. The dead Baby Godzilla is stored at a warehouse at San Francisco’s Embarcadero for studying purposes.

Balinger becomes alarmed when researchers who came into contact with the body begin suffering from radiation poisoning. Balinger deduces that the Baby is a living atomic reactor with regenerative properties. Since the sea disasters continued even after the Baby’s death, Balinger concludes that the adult Godzilla is coming to the city, but the military disregard his ideas again. Kruschov kidnaps Kevin and demands that Daxton exchange the missiles as ransom. Kevin manages to escape just as Godzilla rises from San Francisco Bay.

The military attack the beast but to no effect, which angers Godzilla into a rampage, destroying the Golden Gate Bridge. Daxton, Balinger, and Martin plan to lure Godzilla out of the city with a recording of the Baby taken from the submarine video and kill it with the Russian missiles. As Daxton flies the helicopter carrying the missiles, Kruschov appears onboard with Kevin and demands the missiles be returned. After a brief fight, the helicopter crashes and Kruschov lands in Godzilla’s hand, where he is incinerated by Godzilla’s atomic breath.

Godzilla finds the warehouse holding its offspring and unleashes a mournful roar after discovering the Baby dead. Balinger and Martin turn on the Baby’s recording at Alcatraz Island, which attracts Godzilla’s attention. Daxton drags the remaining missile onto the Scorpion-78, a high-tech prototype battle helicopter. The co-pilot falls off as the Scorpion-78 lifts off and Kevin takes the co-pilot’s place. As Daxton flies the chopper, Kevin reluctantly fires the missile into Godzilla’s throat, which successfully kills the monster. Kevin falls off the Scorpion-78, but is saved by Godzilla. Kevin weeps as Godzilla takes its last breath.

Strange Days

April 2nd, 2020

Lots of folks have queried me as to how I am doing (I’m in that dreaded age group that doesn’t do well with the coronavirus). I’m doing fine. Not infected; self-quarantined except when I do my three-mile run around my neighborhood to stay in shape. Thanks for asking! I work at home anyway and e-mail my finished art to clients — so no changes there. I had to close down my Sunday figure drawing workshop (I call it Worshipping at the Temple of the Holy Female Form), though; the first time in over thirty years.

Strangely, I’ve got a lot of work. I just wrapped up a full color seven page story for a new Slow Death Anthology; I did the cover, too. I’m painting the cover to the Comic Con International Program Book (I did the program book cover for the San Diego ComicFest about a month ago).

SDComicFestLowRezBlog

I’m also designing a Tar Man Cthulhu mug for Mondo. I’ve always got retrospective books planned (huge books on each of the following subjects: my comics work; my music-related work; my entertainment advertising art; my film design work), and my Legends of the British Blues book is nearing completion. I’ve also done my own translation of Pablo Neruda’s book Stones of the Sky with a full page pen illustration for each poem. That book is completed; all that is needed is the official permission of the Neruda estate.

If you’re looking for something wonderful to pass your sequestered time, I highly recommend that you go to YouTube and search for Ringo Starr-Robbie Robertson and “The Weight”. There’s also some other great stuff put together by the same international group. There is also a moving version of Beethoven’s Ninth performed by the sequestered Rotterdam Symphony Orchestra. All very positive and uplifting! If you’re in the mood for a riveting twisty-turny mystery, check out The Stranger on NetFlix. I also recommend Steven Soderbergh’s white-knuckler Unsane, starring Claire Foy…plus any film by Taika Waititi, especially Hunt For The Wilder People.
I hope all is well with you, my friends. These are strange times…

See You at San Diego ComicFest!

March 5th, 2020

Another great San Diego ComicFest starts tomorrow and goes through Sunday. This is a great, low-key show that’s strictly about comics. I’m on three panels this year., including the fan favorite: Untold Tales of Hollywood which I do tag team-style with my pal Paul Sammon.

It feels like the original San Diego Comic Con was about 40 years ago. It’s relaxed and the dealers room closes at a decent time, giving us all time for dinner and drinks and great conversation with friends.

Join us!

The details (address, dates, etc.) are in the Appearances section of my website.

Anza-Borrego Stout Lecture on Antarctica

January 9th, 2020

On Saturday, January 11, I will be giving a PowerPoint presentation for the Anza-Borrego Paleontology Symposium: Dinosaurs to Deserts.

This will be at the Borrego Springs Performing Arts Center, 590 Palm Canyon Drive, Borrego Springs, California.

My talk will be “Dinosaurs, Penguins and Whales: The Wildlife of Antarctica”.

The $25 ticket for this event includes the Friday, January 10 lectures as well. The other speakers are Jack Horner, Tom Demere, Greg MacDonald and Dr. Jessie Atterholt.

I hope to see you there!

I am Back and Ready for 2020!

January 2nd, 2020

Unusual for me, I took some time off in late November and more than half of December. I owed my wife a big vacation, so just before I left for my Australian adventure in October I planned and booked a fairly elaborate vacation in Costa Rica, a place my wife has always wanted to visit.

I researched and booked all of the hotels and inter-Costa Rica travel, our nature hikes, snorkeling and other tours, the restaurants, plus our in-country flights and air travel to San José, Costa Rica and back to Los Angeles International Airport. I like doing that kind of stuff. If the bottom falls out of the art market, maybe I’ll become a travel agent…

We enjoyed Costa Rica at just the right time: after the end of the rainy season and right before the big Christmas/New Year’s tourist crush.

The Costa Rica people (called Tikos) were incredibly kind and good-spirited. We saw lots of wildlife, from sloths to tapirs, from macaws to toucans and lots of incredibly colored hummingbirds. The food and accommodations were wonderful. We were there for about three weeks, all over the country. We saw and experienced a lot!

More on Costa Rica later!

¡Pura Vida!

Return of the Living Dead Appearance Tonight!

October 27th, 2019

Hi, Return of the Living Dead fans!
There is going to be a special screening tonight of the movie, followed by a Q & A with Yours Truly, Beverly (Tina) Randolph, Allan (Tarman) Trautman and make-up maestro Kenny Myers.

This is going to be an only-in-Hollywood experience, part of the Rooftop Cinema Club series. Yes, we’re going to watch our little zombie film under the stars at 6121 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood on the third floor rooftop (3rd floor access off of El Centro). Doors open at 6:30 PM; the film screens at 8:00 PM. There will be cocktails and food being served as well.

Here’s the website for ticketing and other information:
https://rooftopcinemaclub.com/los-angeles/neuehouse/film/the-return-of-the-living-dead-1985/

See you there! Happy Halloween! More Brains!

Where The Heck Has Bill Been?

October 25th, 2019

Long time no blog!

The reason is, I’ve been traveling, promoting my book Fantastic Worlds all across the USA and the world…well, part of the world (Australia). I guested at about twenty shows and conventions this year in promotion of my book. Since most conventions are in the summer/early autumn, I was doing a lot of them back-to-back recently.

I recently appeared in Tampa, Florida; Atlanta, Georgia; Salt Lake City, Utah; Austin, Texas; Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Cairns, Australia; and Baltimore, Maryland (this last weekend).

I spent three weeks in Australia. Besides the cities mentioned, I also journeyed to the Daintree Rain Forest (near Cairns), the Blue Mountains (to visit the home/museum of artist Norman Lindsay), Lamington National Park and Phillip Island, where I saw the fairy penguins emerge from the sea and head for their land burrows. I attended the annual Society of Vertebrate Paleontology meeting, which was in Brisbane this year and I delivered Ron Cobb‘s Lifetime Achievement Award for Concept Design to his family in Sydney.

So, lots of travel and adventures (I did a twelve mile hike through the rain forest in Lamington National Park and earlier watched as a twelve-feet carpet python slowly crossed the road in front of my car).

I shall resume my Untold Tales of Hollywood stories shortly; my body is still adjusting to all of the time changes this past month.

Untold Tales of Hollywood #45

September 20th, 2019

When Steve Miner made me the production designer on Godzilla – King of the Monster in 3-D, I immediately began putting together my dream art department.

There were effects in almost every scene, so I knew we pretty much needed to storyboard the entire film. I continued to do boards, designing the film as I drew them. I also hired Dave Stevens and Doug Wildey to do storyboards, giving each of them sequences to board. I offered Alex Toth a job on the film, but he passed. Dave and Richard Hescox were sharing the front third of my studio, so I saw Dave every day. Dave and Doug were close friends (Dave based the Peevy character in The Rocketeer on Wildey). To speed things up, I drew the layouts for most of Dave’s boards.

It was a little embarrassing for me to be Doug’s boss. Doug was the creator of the great prime time animated series Jonny Quest and knew much more about storyboarding and storytelling than I did. I was lucky to have access to Doug. I always had him check my boards to make sure I hadn’t left out an essential panel or two.

My pal Rick Baker got hired to create a gigantic robotic Godzilla head. I got stop motion animator/dinosaur sculptor par excellence Steve Czerkas to build the Godzilla armature and sculpt and cast the Godzilla body based upon my redesign of Godzilla. He did a great job.

New Godzilla-Meets-Old Godzilla. The foam rubber dorsal fins are already starting to deteriorate and fall off on Steve Czerkas’ animatible Godzilla figure.

David Allen was hired to do the film’s stop motion animation (our Godzilla was not going to be a guy in a baggy suit). Like I said, a real Dream Team was put together to bring Fred Dekker‘s brilliant script to life on the big screen. Fred at that time was one of the Pad o’ Guys, the hottest group of screenwriters in Hollywood. Shane (Lethal Weapon) Black was another Pad o’ Guys member.

Steve gave me a lot of leeway in designing the film. I even set my boards to music. I made a cassette tape of some stirring Peter Gabriel music to accompany the scene near the end of the film when young teen Kevin must sacrifice Godzilla on Alcatraz.

I think Steve was amazed by how much that music supported the screen action and captured and enhanced that scene’s mood — so much so that a short time later Steve told me that following our Godzilla film, Steve wanted me to direct Rodan (!).