Monday, September 30, 2013

For those of you who are not comic book fans let me introduce you to the only man working in comics that is tall enough to knock the hat off Jim Shooter's head - Mike Norton.

Mike is a member of Four Star Studios based out of Chicago. They have an awesome set-up - a true monument to the child in all of us. Especially if that child grew up in the 80s. He is the co-creator of Gravity and Revival. He has created his own title, The Answer!, from Dark Horse. He has worked with Devil's Due drawing their first Voltron miniseries. Mike has also worked on titles like Queen & Country, Runaways, The All-New Atom, and Green Arrow.

Mr. Norton is a long time podcaster at Crankcast and an Eisner Award winner for his web-comic Battlepug .

What are you currently working on?
Revival, Battlepug, The Occultist, coming up with a story for the next Answer! Series, secret stuff.

How do you feel about zombies?

I am over them. That being said, BUY REVIVAL!

(Geex - For those that haven't picked up Revival - you really should give it a chance. This comic appeals to audiences that love zombies and those that are sick of them.)
For one day in rural central Wisconsin, the dead came back to life. Now it's up to Officer Dana Cypress to deal with the media scrutiny, religious zealots, and government quarantine that has come with them. In a town where the living have to learn to deal with those who are supposed to be dead, Officer Cypress must solve a brutal murder, and everyone, alive or undead, is a suspect. - Amazon Synopsis

What about the Answer!?
The Answer is a crazy superhero mystery story in simple terms. The Hollywood pitch is the Davinci Code of superheroes starring Velma from Scooby Doo.

You started in the business because you loved to draw and wanted to be an artist. When did you decide that you wanted to write as well?
It started around 3 years ago when I did my first 24 hour comic. Since then, I've been kinda bitten by the writing bug.

What's next? Any chance of a Buttlepug cartoon?
Hmmmmm... Mmmmmmmmaybe?

(Geex - Mike intimated that a cartoon has been talked about but nothing has happened.)

Why is your studio so awesome?
It has a lot to do with the people in it. Also: beer fridge.

What is your dream project?
I'm kind of doing it now. If I can keep doing things I make up and have people like it, I'd like to continue that. Company side, I'd like to do a Blue Beetle book, a Star Wars book, and maybe Spider- Man again.

We go way back... about 22 years. Do you feel that your college days of drawing squirrels prepared you for a future of drawing Battlepug?
Yes. I think my college strip directly affected it. Also, 22 YEARS????

Do you remember walking through the parking lot at the mall in Jackson, TN and watching those kids kick bottles into cars?
I have no recollection of this. However, I do believe it happened.

I just gotta ask... who is your favorite artist?
Today? Maybe Chris Samnee, Gabe Hardman, Rafael Albuquerque, bunch of others. Ever? John Byrne, John Romita, Mike Weiringo.

Anything else you would like to plug? Still doing the podcast?
Yeah, still do the Crankcast every week.

I appreciate Mike taking the time to answer these questions. If you have any other questions for Mike let me know and I will bother him again. I'm pretty sure he will not come to your birthday party dressed like a clown.

31 movies in 31 days! Horrorthonpalooza!
Stick around!

This Halloween story involves a cemetery. Actually, two cemeteries, but it’s also two tales in one.

The first cemetery was notoriously known as the Witches Graveyard. It was located on a mountain. The road to reach it was lonely, desolate, and had a degree of danger due to the curves. There were rumors of hooded locals holding rituals of animal sacrifice in the cemetery.

I was aware of the cemetery but did not know the true location until my senior year in high school. That year a group of us decided to visit a local haunted house. Afterwards it was too early to call it a night but another haunted house was going to prove too expensive and also boring. How many haunted houses can you go to in a night? Someone suggested the Witches Graveyard. Everyone (except me) was in agreement that it seemed like a spooky idea. We loaded two cars and off we went to the mountain.

Now, why would I be against such a trip? I have a respect for cemeteries. I have revealed that I watched some pretty scary movies at too young an age. Among those movies was Carrie. For weeks I would not step on actual earth – I always stepped on asphalt, wood, or concrete. I had a fear that a hand was going to reach up and drag me down into the ground. I think this is reasonable. I am not saying that this is why I refuse to walk on graves but I think it definitely plays a part. I think graveyard/cemeteries are a place for somber, quiet reflection and reverence. I would also like to go on record saying that making out in a cemetery does not go against my beliefs. I think making out is a somber moment of reflection and reverence.

The drive to the cemetery can be eerie if one properly sets up the trip. I’ve taken people to the area and had them jumping at every shadow. This first trip was uncomfortable, but not because of anything sinister or otherworldly, rather because of 4 excited sophomores. When we got to the cemetery it was more of the same. I tried to warn every one of the dangers of playing tag in a notorious cemetery on Halloween night. I learned something that night – specifically why it was known as a Witches Graveyard. Many of the tombstones are extremely old. Like most old tombstone they were made by the family of the deceased or a local that carved all of the tombstones as part of his business. Some of these tombstones were unusual – too many angels, too many cherubs – but certainly nothing “witchy.”
Pentagram Markings at top.

The Witch stones only made up a few of the grave markers. These stones were decorated with pentagrams. The local legend states that these markings were meant to either keep a witch from coming back to life or designate the person buried as a witch.

Tent style graves at the Witches Graveyard.

Both legends make little sense - why would you bury a person you considered an evil witch in a consecrated graveyard? You would not.

I have two theories that seem more reasonable. The first is that the pentagrams were used as backwoods charms to protect the deceased much the same way a cross design would be used. Why not use everything at your disposal to comfort yourself when your love one passed on? Besides some of these so called witch graves belonged to young children. Another theory is that these markings did designate something particular about the person buried there. They may have been a warning to avoid fresh graves because the person had passed away due to typhus or smallpox.

I allowed some cavorting but was in constant fear of having to explain to parents why I had allowed their children to be arrested in the Witches Graveyard. Eventually, I managed to ruin the party and we all went home. Pretty anti-climactic, right? I needed this story to emphasis the next tale.

One Halloween years later I found myself in upstate New York. Again my companions were excited and hellbent on frolicking in a cemetery. This cemetery was no ordinary cemetery on the side of a mountain. Instead of notorious I would say that this cemetery is famous. I am talking about the one and only Sleepy Hallow Cemetery. It is adjacent the Old Dutch Church made famous in Washington Irving’s stories – particularly The Legend of Sleepy Hallow. This cemetery was incorporated in 1849 but probably pre-dates that year. We are talking many, many famous people in this 90 acre boneyard. No one should ever be in it at night unsupervised.

Washington Irving's grave.
I was really surprised how easily we were able to get onto the grounds of the Old Dutch Church and the Cemetery. My two comrades decided they needed to see the Headless Horseman and the way to accomplish this feat was to go deep into the cemetery and wait until midnight.

I have established my feelings on graveyards. I stayed close to the church and hoped that the authorities were not already watching. I knew many years ago I didn’t want to go to a jail when I was 20 miles from home. Now, years later, I knew absolutely that I did not want to visit Sing Sing or any other New York penal institution. I hid in the shadows of the church while my buddies went in search of the supernatural. Thirty minutes later they returned with their heads.

The man I called Crazy Horse had collected a souvenir. We stood in the small graveyard of the Old Dutch Church which is and isn’t part of the Sleepy Hallow Cemetery and argued. Crazy Horse had returned with a small American flag; the type of flag that a person waves during parades and 4 th of July events.

I was incensed!

It was bad enough to desecrate a grave but to also vandalize a fallen veteran… it was too much. I gave Crazy Horse a stern lecture and scolded my other friend for allowing such a thing to happen. At some point during my tirade I wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings. I accidently hip checked a tombstone that was barely slate. It was so thin that you could almost see through it.

Naturally, at the height of me berating Crazy Horse for his action in the cemetery I completely and utterly knock a tombstone over. A hush fell over the churchyard. I looked back to see the extent of my action and was shocked. I literally dislodged a tombstone and knocked it flat.

Looking back at my friend and Crazy Horse I could tell they were ready to leave. I pointed to the flag in Crazy Horse’s hand. He dropped it without complaint and off we fled.

It was a quiet ride back to Manhattan. To my knowledge the incident was never discussed among the participants. I will never forget the feeling of shame and terror. I had managed to accidently vandalize a national monument (unless this could still be held against me – in which case I am lying) while trying to do the right thing.

This concludes my Halloween stories. If any of this compromises my freedom in any manner then consider these stories the rambling of fantasy. I mean, what are the chances that any of this happened anyway?

October means Horrorthonpalooza!
31 movies in 31 days!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

In honor of the Halloween season I have compiled a top 15 list of my favorite zombie movies. The undead are all the rage right now but I have had a fascination with brain eaters since the mid-80s when I first watched Night of the Living Dead one late Saturday night. I owned a video store for a brief period of time and boasted that my horror section had over 100 zombie and zombie related movies.

I could not place them in order of most favorite to least. Coming up with just 15 was hard enough. My sense of decorum has forced me to place them in alphabetical order.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? What are some of your favorites not on the list?

October first begins Horrorthonpalooza!
31 horror movies in 31 days.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

October is closing fast and October means Haunted House season! I've borrowed some of my favorite pictures from the Nightmare's Fear Factory to display for your viewing pleasure. I've provided my comments for free!

I like to call this one Human Centipede.

Dad is amused. Daughter is returning to the womb.

The girl in the middle is giving the downward goat to ward off evil!

For some reason the Conga line is very popular at the Fear Factory.

This looks like a live action version of Sonic the Hedgehog.

Another Conga line!


Big man, little woman. Seems like a natural shield.

I call this one the "I love you, Bro!" Conga.

The ever popular Scooby Doo Conga!

All pictures were borrowed from the Nightmare's Fear Factory . Check out their imgur site for more haunted house pics.

Remember Horrorthonpalooza!
31 movies in 31 days!

We have a Christmas Story to watch 24/7 on TBS during the Christmas season. Do we need a family type movie to watch during the Halloween season? Do you watch The Nightmare Before Christmas on Halloween or on Christmas? So many questions.

Over the next few days I would like to share some personal Halloween stories.

The first Halloween story doesn't actually take place on Halloween but it does involve John Carpenter's Halloween.

There was a frightening time in history when a person had only a few channels to choose from. The big three: ABC, CBS, and NBC, as well as the Superstation TBS were available. All that began to change when a little creature called Home Box Office spread like bird flu across the lands. HBO began to change the way people watched television. Movies were available 24/7. It was amazing – especially since I lived in a rural area where the channels signed off around midnight. If you wanted to watch Poltergeist static then you were in luck.

HBO’s business model was simple enough – they showed a movie and you watched it. One Summer I watched Beastmaster twice a day for a month… but that’s another story. This is a story about the movie Halloween.

Halloween had been out just long enough for the studio to release it to HBO. I was a lad between the ages of 6 and 8 years old. What child doesn’t love Halloween? You get to dress up like a monster and people reward you with candy bars. It’s a win win holiday. I remember people, adults, talking about the movie Halloween and thinking… “sounds good.” I knew my Mom wouldn’t allow the viewing of Halloween without protest so I had to devise a plan.

It’s good that I learned to read at an early age. I checked out the HBO guide and found out that Halloween was playing at 3AM. Bingo! All I had to do was crawl out of bed, past my mom, activate my Spider-Man flashlight, make my way downstairs, turn on the television, and kick back and relax while watching what promised to be a sweet movie.

I turned the television on and the familiar static popped up. I quickly adjusted the volume to where I could barely hear it while sitting about three feet from the screen. I then switched the converter box from Normal to Magic. Instantly, HBO’s coming attractions popped up on the screen. Five minutes later the familiar intro began. I hummed along to the music and geared myself for an amazing time.

Let me set this up…

I am seven years old. I am sitting in a completely dark room with the only illumination coming from the circular glow of the television’s light. It is 3AM.

Halloween begins.

I desperately want to turn the television off but I am afraid to move. I am in complete fear of what might be lurking in the dark outside the protective glow. That glow was both the source of my terror and my only sanctuary. I sit and watch the entire movie.

When the movie ended I sat in that same spot until dawn.

Once I was absolutely certain no asylum inmates were waiting for me in the fading darkness I returned to my bed. I cannot absolutely say for a fact that I had nightmares but I would be willing to bet that I did.

No one ever knew of my madness. I just recently related the story to my Mom and she never knew. She is so proud that I am not a serial killer. I am proud of me too.

Anyone want to share scary movie stories or Halloween stories? Please comment below!

Remember in 3 days I will begin Horrorthonpalooza!
31 days of 31 movies!