Friday — August 15th, 2014


Bite, Bite, Bite!

Ah yes, wooden toys! Where baby teeth and cedar meet. The boy is teething, therefore anything and everything is going in his mouth! I had passed down some wooden toys I had when I was a lad, but they had to be removed quickly. It’s not that he can’t play with them, it’s just that he’s trying to eat them. Like my toys from the past we bought new wooden toys from Brio, but they’ll have to stay high up on the shelf until he’s ready. Brio is just one of those trusted brands I grew up with which is why I pay the higher dollar to own their toys.


Websites That Make Me Smile Part 6

Just a few to mention this week, that really caught my attention. The first one is a blog instead of a website, but the artist is John Kricfalusi creator of Ren & Stimpy so you know it’ll be good! John K has a great imagination and style, which is why I fell in love with his work. He continually pushes the envelope in animation and humour, from the obscure backgrounds to his characters ever changing facial expressions John K has changed the way we perceive animation. Pick up a copy of The Ren & Stimpy Show ‘Uncut’ Season 1&2 for the commentary John K and the rest of the Spumco team provide throughout the three disc boxed set. It’s like getting a private animation lesson in your own home! Or you can donate a little cash to John K’s Curriculum and follow along as John takes you through the fundamentals of animation and cartooning. It’s amazing to see how the comic/animation industry has evolved with technology to bring the reader so much content at the touch of a button. Which is why a lot of animators are now blogging or streaming live podcasts to keep up interest in their work because of the number of ‘up and coming’ artists out there.

Another way artists are raising cash for their projects is through Kickstarter.com Though the site is still in BETA mode, Kickstarter.com is an incredible platform. “Its’ purpose is funding, but we find ourselves gaining so much outside of collecting pledges. For us, Kickstarter has been a powerful tool to connect with a community passionate about our work.”  Quote from Lumi Corp.  Check out ‘Frog in a Suit’ and donate a little money to Joe Murray’s Kaboing TV idea and help get it off the ground! Perhaps some of you don’t know who Joe Murray is; well he’s the creator of Rocko’s Modern Life that was aired on Nickelodeon back in the 90’s. A truly brilliant ‘independent’ animation show, which created 52 episodes and had legions of fans and followers across the globe. Kickstarter.com is great place to witness new up and coming talent and provides a means of funding your own project. Perhaps Jumping Toaster Productions will ask for funding to produce a couple of Beany & Ralf animated shorts when the time comes.

Lastly, a neat little website Exploding Rabbit.com who produced the Super Mario Bros Crossover video game! A great flash game that recreates the original Super Mario Bros for Nintendo and allows you to play as characters from other classic Nintendo games like Megaman, Metroid, and Contra just to name a few. Great frame rate speed, online playability without having to download any of the content and to put it simply great Nintendo action! Jay Pavlina, the creator has some funny videos of him playing his own game for additional content on his site. Great job Jay, you’ve fulfilled one of my ‘pipe dreams’ from the 80’s and allow me to play as Megaman and blow the Goombas to dust!



Drawn to Life

I love my Nintendo DS Lite that I got for Christmas, I especially love the fact that my DS plays Game Boy Advance games! So many cool retro-games like Super Mario 3, Castlevania, Zelda, and Metroid, just to name a few that you can still find on eBay or craigslist. Personally, I find ‘recently-released’ games can’t hold my interest and provide a challenge that’s worth my money. Then I came across a great title that instantly peaked my curiosity; Dawn to Life ‘The Next Chapter’ by THQ coincidentally ‘Best of E3’ Winner 2009.

Looking at the box-art and the back it looked like a simplified version of Photoshop Illustrator meets Mario. I dropped about 40 dollars, picked up a copy, took it home, and Blamm-O! I was enthralled in the creative world of Drawn to Life! You couldn’t get me away from the cursed device. My evenings after work mainly composed of drawing the next object needed to complete the level. From carrot surfboards, to inflatable-women platforms, I made a very surreal game of my own starring my own hero Gangstapus! He was a mean purple pimp octopus, with a Rolex watch, fedora and rusty prison shiv. The drawing palette that you use to create your hero is pretty straight forward with a build in ‘help’ button in case you don’t recognize a certain tool. For the artist or anyone familiar with Photoshop they included some nice blending option tools that you can use to amp up your creation! The game also included an option to trade your creations with other users via WiFi connection, however you can only carry a maximum of two hero creations on the cartridge.

Overall the game itself is pretty linier, and takes no time completing it within a few hours if you choose the ‘default’ game objects to use. The content you provide as the ‘Creator’ is really the meat & potatoes that makes this title worth while to spend about 30-40 bucks on. For a long time now I’ve wanted my own side-scrolling game featuring my own creations and now I have it! 

Check out the official website here: http://www.drawntolife.com/


All images, logos, designs and trademarks are of THQ Inc. Licensed by Nintendo

Bronze Sculptures by Kathy Ross

TroikaWhile attending the Circle Craft Christmas Market this year, I came across a very unique booth filled with all sorts of bronze statues. The artist; Kathy Ross is a very talented artisan whom not only produces bronze statues but fabric doll pins and figures made out of recycled materials. This was not your typical Christmas craft booth, which is why I hovered around absorbing the very surreal imagery Kathy Ross incorporates into her pieces. Try to imagine Hieronymus Bosch meets Salvador Dali in bronze! Kathy Ross takes a very difficult and beautiful medium to capture her imagination indefinitely.

Kathy Ross has a fascination with globes and how we fit in this world with all this ‘stuff’ swirling around us. She takes an interesting approach to this idea and takes out sections of the earth and puts in funny looking humanoid characters among fused objects set upon chicken legs cast in bronze. Also on display was a very interesting piece that featured soldiers riding mice in a battle against babies also on mice. The title; Us vs. Them or The Mice Wars. For the artists statement and a further in depth explanation on these two pieces please visit her website: Sculptures by Kathy Ross. Troika was one of the sculptures I purchased from Kathy, there was something about these three horses fused together that made me smile. Troika currently sits atop one of my many bookshelves where I adore it when I reach for a novel.

Also found in her booth was a series of sculptures known as the ‘Travellers’. Kathy Ross takes her figurative sculptures holding small globes and poses them using the globe as a sort of ‘vehicle’ which drives us to our destination. These charming figures are sculpted out of many different recycled materials, mainly cardboard, wire, paper, cloth and then layered with plaster and actual maps to help visually represent travel and destinations. A very beautiful and delicate figure is created with this collage of plaster and paper materials to create a fantastic eye catching piece.

I spoke with Kathy Ross throughout the craft show about her inspirations for certain pieces and was delighted to hear and that she was going to branch out into another interesting and difficult medium; tin. I can’t wait to see her beautiful yet surreal figures moulded out tin at the next Circle Craft show!

It was a pleasure meeting Kathy Ross, and I hope that you take a moment to look at her beautiful sculptures through her website.

*Toys With Memories Included

outside CBTWhile on one of my many trips to Victoria, BC with my girlfriend, I stumbled across the coolest window display I’ve ever seen! It was at Cherry Bomb Toys located in the ‘hip’ downtown neighbourhood, that there was a diorama of Jedi Knights taking on a group of zombies. I was super excited and immediately entered the store!

‘Sweet’, is the first word that came to mind when I stepped inside Cherry Bomb Toys! The owners just recently moved to a new location and just finished setting up a brand new diorama in the window! Besides the window display, Cherry Bomb Toys has got a ton of ‘vintage’ collectibles from all generations and genera. I noticed a lot of rare and ‘hard-to-find’ collectibles all around the store. Some I had, most I wanted! The Transformer triple-changer Blitzwing was one I especially wanted and of course Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters. I was taking it all in when I noticed the Doctor Who Tardis (Police Box) sitting right there in front of me, and there was the Dailek over on the other side. There were treasures all around me, from the Predator Helmet to the Star Wars ‘X-Wing’ there was an over load in my brain!

cabinet_1Set in a very ‘vintage’ atmosphere, this massive store with amazing display cases and original ‘rough-brick’ walls really set this comic store apart from the rest with its’ character. The owners, Candace & Biagio Woodward are very passionate about collectibles and are super knowledgeable about new and ‘up-and-coming’ toy release dates. I easily spent an hour in awe at the many display cases housing a very impressive collection of Transformers. My girlfriend also enjoyed the amazing collection of Strawberry Shortcake dolls and the Teddy Ruxpin stuffed animals, for you see Cherry Bomb Toys is not just for ‘big boys’ it’s for everyone of all ages! They even had a couple of bins where we could get ‘hands-on’ with some of the toys we played with back when we were kids. My Blackstar action figure got a butt-whoopin from The Peculiar Purple Pieman of Porcupine Peak. Good times!

Cherry Bomb Toys has something for the child in all of us and the helpful staff can take your order, or even buy your vintage collectibles. The good folks at Cherry Bomb Toys are also writing a blog! Check it out and register for new toy release information and what’s happening at the store!


Stronger Than All The Rest…

astroboyAstro Boy was the very first japanimation cartoon I saw when I was a young boy, growing up in the 80’s. My sister and I would watch Astro Boy together after school and there was always a heated debate as to what the error was in Astro’s debriefing report at the end of the show. Typically Astro Boy would make an ‘error’ on purpose in his debriefing report to the professor and the viewer had to guess what fact he had lied about. In most cases it was fairly obvious, but sometimes they threw in one that was really confusing to sort out the details. So my sister and I would argue about who was right regarding the inconsistencies, she always won in the end.

Astro Boy was created in 1952 by one of the great ‘Manga’ art masters; Osamu Tezuka. The origins of Astro Boy were unclear to me until I stumbled across the original 1963 black and white broadcast of the animation show on VHS tape. The creation of Astro Boy was responsible by the head of The Ministry of Science, Dr. Tenma whom had created the android in an attempt to preserve the memory of his little boy whom had died in a car accident by creating a metal version of his son. He soon realized that the metal contraption could not express ‘human’ emotions and the very sight of the soulless android caused Dr. Tenma to greave. Sickened by the monstrosity he created, Dr. Tenma abandoned the little android at the Robot Circus where Astro was mistreated and forced to perform pathetic circus acts for groups of taunting humans. It was at one of his performances that the good doctor; Professor Ochanomizu the new head of the Ministry of Science took in the little robot and taught Astro how to become more human. He witnessed Astro’s incredible strength and ‘super powers’ and guided Astro Boy to become the city’s guardian against renegade robots and robot hating humans. I have no idea what happened to the creator of Astro; Dr. Tenma, I’m sure you’ll have to refer to the manga comics to find out because if memory serves me in the cartoons he goes through a bout of depression and disappears from the storyline almost entirely.

So that’s the story in a nut shell, numerous media sources state that there’s a CG animation movie soon to be released in 2009 along with the original 1963 broadcast on DVD. We’ll just have to wait and see if it comes true or not, frankly I’m a little tired of all the 3D animation movies that have been released year after year let’s see some ‘traditional’ animation feature films or better yet more ‘stop-motion’ animations!

If you’re interested in the whole Astro Boy universe, step into your local comic book store and request a copy of the manga adaptation or look for the DVD’s of the 1980’s rendition already in stores.


The Blue Bomber

blue_bomberWho is the Blue Bomber you ask? Well he’s most commonly referred to as Mega Man in North America, but if you’re from Japan, he’s known as Rock Man. Mega Man was first conceived in 1987 when he first appeared in his own title released by Capcom. His popularity grew after the first video game launch to become the company’s primary iconic character in the video game industry among such giants as Super Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog and Crash Bandicoot. 

Mega Man games were some of the most challenging games I have ever played in my life. Primarily due to the fact that Mega Man games had what the industry referred to as ‘Nightmare Levels’ where the chosen level will never be played the same way twice. Another factor of Mega Man’s popularity was that the player could gain the robot masters ‘special ability’ after defeating them in battle for use in later levels. The name ‘Rockman’ was initially conceived by Akira Kitamura, when he took the children’s game of Rock, Paper, and Scissors and applied it to Mega Man, where the Blue Bomber must choose a defeated bosses special ability to use against another boss. The name ‘Rock Man’ didn’t carry over well to North America due to the fact his robotic female counter partner ‘Roll’ never appeared in the game. Her absence made it confusing to the marketing team, thus the name Mega Man was chosen instead for the North American franchise. Over time Mega Man developed other ‘standard’ abilities that the player utilized from the start of the game like sliding and then charging up the ‘Mega Buster’ to release a large plasma projectile to make the game more challenging to play. 

Mega Man’s universe slowly spun off other amazing titles like Mega Man X, The Power Battle and went on to appear in numerous other Nintendo titles as a playable character. Mega Man’s popularity grew to such a huge following that he had an appearance in a short lived animation show called Captain N: The Game Master, and finally his own animation series Mega Man: The NT Warrior. The clean lines and attention to detail that Keiji Inafune uses in Mega Man universe to depict Akira Kitamura robot creations really drew me into the Mega Man franchise, which is why I’m such a fan! My favourite robot baddie out of the entire universe has got to be Guts Man. Something about a huge marauding robot flinging cubes of crushed metal at your head really speaks to me. 

If you’re interested in playing Mega Man there are lots of emulators out there online or if you can track down a copy of the Mega Man Anniversary Collection for the Xbox you can play all 10 Mega Man titles on your Xbox 360.

Happy Robot Hunting!


Mega Man is copyright of Capcom

Come to the Darkside with your dad, Darth Fiddle!

darth fiddle

A street performer dressed up as Darth Vader.


Victoria, BC

It’s a Betelgeusian Berserker Baboon!

Okay, now who understands the title of this post? Anyone? Well it’s from Bucky O’Hare, written by Larry Hama, artist Michael Golden and colorist Cory Adams back in 1978. A great read if you like ‘animal comics’ and outer space themes.

Bucky O’Hare was this green rabbit in a British military outfit, welding a space blaster, leading a team of other animal characters against the toad empire. The toad-humanoid characters invented a super computer that ended up taking over their world ala Terminator so they started invading other planets to ‘feed’ the machine. The other animals started a military operation willing to take on the toads and thus the ‘Sentient Protoplasm Against Colonial Enroachment’ was born or S.P.A.C.E. for short.

But wait there’s more! Willy Du Witt was a bit of a brainy kid (human) who built this Photon Accelerator which transported him through a different space time continuum to the animal dimension. The animals take him for a shaved baboon and recruit him into their military coup against the toads. Willy was able to ‘jump’ back and forth but the teleporter closed trapping Willy in the wrong dimension. Willy then helps Bucky lead a few animals into battle against the toads and it plays out a little like a Star Wars clone, with Willy attempting to leap home every now and then.

Bucky O’Hare’s tale spun off into an animation series on the BBC for a 13 episode run. It followed the same storyline, with very few alterations. It grew in popularity enough in the 80’s to create a video game and action figure line by Hasbro . But this little icon got lost among the giants of the time like the Ninja Turtles, He-Man and numerous other comicbook characters that it just couldn’t hold ‘shelf space’.

Check out the intro below and post a comment about what you think of the cartoon.

All right ladies! Let’s croak us some toads!

That Krazy Kat

Krazy&IgnatzA lot of people when asked “Who were the first cat and mouse team in comic strips?” typically answer Tom & Jerry or Sylvester & Speedy Gonzales. But very few know about ‘Krazy Kat and Ignatz Mouse’.

Krazy Kat was first conceived by George Herriman in 1903 when he appeared in a newspaper gag panel as a tiny black kitten with a white bow in the ‘washbolla’. Krazy was really no more than a black smudge on the page. But the cat continued to appear in George’s work until September 6th, 1903 when he got his first half page comic strip. Thus the Kat was born and given a name! He continued to grow in popularity and soon in 1913 regular “Krazy Kat” comic strips were found in pages of the New York Journal.

It wasn’t long afterwards that George took a simple mouse that appeared in the backgrounds of his comic strips and pair him up with Krazy Kat and the birth of the first cat and mouse team was born. Ignatz mouse was depicted as an angry straight man that reacted to Krazy’s mad off the wall insights and remarks. Krazy was a carefree indeterminate gender cat who constantly tried to ‘win’ Ignatz heart. The mouse, clearly offended by this would hurl a brick at the cat’s head, but Krazy took this as an expression of love. You could say there was also a bit of a love triangle, due to the fact that there was also a bull dog involved in later strips acting like the ‘protective’ boyfriend of Ignatz, but that gets confusing to follow.

And so, Krazy and Ignatz mouse along with a few other friends from Coconino Country told their tale in Sunday newspapers across the country week after week, then year after year! Biographically there really isn’t more to say about George Herriman’s career. He did go on to make a few animated ‘shorts’ of Krazy and Ignatz, but never really got to give the production the direction they sorely needed.

Feel free to do a little more research if you want to learn more about George Herriman’s contributions to comic strip art.


More Than Meets The Eye!


Twenty five years after the very first episode aired on national television, the Transformers complete first season is now available in stores! This is the animated Transformers your boyfriend has talked to you about over and over again. These are the Transformers you played with in the 80’s when no mere Go-Bot would suffice. These are the Transformers you begged your parents to buy instead of those crudely moulded pharmacy toys they tried to pass off as the ‘original’. Then where’s the box mom? Where’s the box??? 

Some of you may recall there was already a Transformers DVD collection of the same hit 1980’s animation broadcast that was sold on the market. But what happened to it? Why did it get pulled from the shelves so quickly? Well a small blurb inside the DVD booklet tells it all. 

‘The Transformers DVD release prior to our 25th Anniversary Edition was missing animation shots seen in the original broadcast. We did extensive research, found the discrepancies between the original broadcast masters and the restored masters used for the last DVD release, reinserted the correct animation, and color corrected it as best we could to match the shots before and after. But because a one-inch master tape simply can’t hold up to the quality of the restored masters, you may notice occasional shots-or even scenes-in some episodes that seem slightly softer than others. Just take comfort in knowing that laser blasts have been reinserted, backgrounds have been corrected and Starscream is Starscream once again.’

My favourite episode is still “Fire in the Sky”. It’s the episode where the Decepticons begin to siphon Earth’s heat from the Arctic Circle, which causes the temperatures worldwide to drop. They soon discover Skyfire a powerful jetfighter and Starscream’s old friend from Cybertron frozen in the ice! Skyfire’s design is basically ‘taken’ from the Robotech series which is probably why I liked him so much. Robotech is a japanimation about futuristic jetfighter pilots who can transform their ships into robots and are charged with protecting the Earth Space Colony from alien invaders. I never owned Skyfire as a kid, but I had good friends who allowed me to ‘transform’ him. Remember, one wrong twist and you had a pile of broken plastic in your hands. Or worse yet for the collectors out there, missing weapons and parts!

I still have a single Transformer in the original packaging tucked away at home. Can you guess which one I have? Leave a comment with your answer! Here’s a hint, he’s an Autobot Micromaster.

Happy guessing!


Transformers logo and illustrations are copyrights of Hasbro