Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dennis Hopper, R.I.P.

I heard this afternoon that the actor Dennis Hopper passed away..
I don't mean to use this Blog to consistently memorialize famous people. And I doubt I'll be spending more time using this forum, to talk about Hollywood personalities.. But Dennis Hopper was very likely my own favorite, as far as actors go. So please forgive me this once, if I venture off into the "Dead Actors" category..

I can't remember the first time I saw Dennis Hopper on screen. But it was probably in some stupid Western, or something. Like most people, he didn't really make a deep impression on me.. Not 'til maybe 'Easy Rider' or David Lynch's 'Blue Velvet'. A film that made great use of his explosive intensity.. Later on, I would go back in Hopper's filmography to marvel at Curtis Harrington's amazing 'Night Tide' (1961).
Hopper always struck me as the "King Of Cool", too.. He was always a compelling interview, on the Late Night shows. Always had an interesting anecdote about someone he'd met in the past, or an experience that he'd survived to tell the rest of us about. It's amazing to me (and I'm sure others) that he even survived to the age of 74?!
I know he was mentored into Art Collecting by Vincent Price. That he hung out with James Dean, in 50's-era Hollywood. Had been married & divorced, many times over. And that he'd nearly been locked up for good into a mental institution, when his addictions became uncontrollable..

Many years ago, I toyed with the idea of using the image of Dennis Hopper (and some of his contemporaries) in a 50's-style Juvenile Delinquency comic-book story. I got about as far as working up a couple model sheets, before burning out on it.. It was to be called: "The Prophets Of Price Street"! hah With Dennis (of course) as the gang-leader; featuring a look that bore a striking similarity to his small role in 'Rebel Without A Cause'..

Here's a turnaround of his Head:

One of the most admirable things about Dennis Hopper, was his drive to produce & create. From interviews I've read with him, he was always greatly concerned with leaving behind a 'body of work'.. And to that end, he struck me as very successful!
'Blue Velvet' was critical to giving Hopper a second-chance in Hollywood. And he made the best of it.. Parlaying his popularity, into a short (but memorable) career as a film director. 'Colors' and 'The Hot Spot' come immediately to mind..
And rather than take the obvious parts in bigger-budget films,-- he also made some brave choices as an actor.. I'm thinking of his more obscure films like: 'Chattahoochee' and 'Paris Trout'?

When I saw the video of Hopper getting his star on the 'Hollywood Walk Of Fame', a few weeks back.. I knew he would not be around for very much longer. Even so, the thought that I won't see him in anymore films, makes me more than a little sad.
IMHO, he will definitely be missed!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Illustration Friday: "EQUIPMENT"..

Hello, again!

I've been meaning to begin participating in the online "Illustration Friday" experience, for quite some time now.. But for whatever reason, Life always seems to conspire against this plan. I either start my contribution too late, or get too busy to finish anything at all..
And that's part of the reason I'm so intent on participating.. Teaching myself the discipline of "getting it done..", in the same week that each new "Theme" subject is announced? A unique skill that any effective illustrator has to be able to call upon, in any given instance..

This week's subject, was: "Equipment"..

Do I go with showing a pile of Fishing or Sports equipment? Or do I go instead, with drawing a construction worker with a bunch of gear? The possibilities boggle the mind.. And I suppose that's the idea.
For my debut entry, I took the easy approach. And dug out an existing Location Design that I created a number of years ago.. It seemed appropos, as it's essentially a cartoony Laboratory, stacked to the rafters with exotic machinery & Jack Kirby -styled equipment!
Hope you'll like it..

Monday, May 10, 2010

Frank Frazetta, R.I.P.

While downtown this afternoon, I heard the news that Frank Frazetta has passed away due to a stroke, at the age of 82.. He was easily my favorite artist of all time. Perhaps not a great surprise to anyone that has followed this Blog?

When I was a wee lad, I happened across a copy of Ballantine's 'FANTASTIC ART OF FRANK FRAZETTA Volume 4' at the Cole's Books shop on Yonge Street, near the old Scientology offices. I recognized the paintings inside that book, as the same mesmerizing images that I'd seen on my favorite Paperbacks, at our local libraries. So in the weeks that followed, I spent all of my available allowance money at Cole's, buying up all of the previous 3 Ballantine volumes of Frazetta's work!

Words fail me, in knowing where to begin to describe how his artwork has affected me personally.. I've probably written about him on my blog, more than I already should have, for fear of boring everyone. But if you're interested,-- you can peruse my earlier postings on Frazetta, simply by clicking on the "Frazetta" label on the bottom of this post..

I know that Frazetta has had a very difficult time lately, with the children squabbling over his artwork & museum. I wish that he didn't have to live long enough to witness any of that ugliness, firsthand..
And with his history of health problems, it must've been a heavy cross for him to bear. But I had a hunch that when his wife Ellie passed away, that it would likely have made it very tenuous for him to go on.. And part of me is actually happy that he's found a peace where he can finally join her, once again.

See ya, Frank.. You were quite simply the Best that ever was!

Friday, May 7, 2010


I'm back, folks!!
I apologize again, for the long delay between Postings.. But Life has become increasingly busy for me. The month of April saw me get married to the lovely Suzanne Dargie. Plus,-- my amazing 80 year-old Dad took a whole bunch of us to Holland with him, for an incredible 12-day vacation..
While in Amsterdam, I was able to visit the 'Lambiek' and 'GoJoker' bookstores.. And hunt down some albums featuring one of my favorite European artists: Benito Jacovitti!
This guy's work is astounding to me.. And even more astonishing that his work hasn't been reprinted for North American readers! I only have his work in foreign languages.. Mostly in Dutch, which I have a working comprehension of..
I only discovered his work in 1974, when my family first visited the Netherlands. Jacovitti's stories appeared regularly in the popular Dutch anthology: 'PEP Magazine'.. That publication featured many of his popular characters.
'Jack Mandolino' was a lot of fun.. Mandolino is a small-time crook that can't seem to get a break.. Despite the best efforts of his small Devil sidekick, who's constantly offering advice from his big book of "Dirty Tricks"..
'Cocco Bill' may have been his most popular character.. Jacovitti did quite a few stories with him. And from what I can gather, was propably his most-recognizable character. I have yet to see a 'Cocco Bill' story that lays out why exactly it's so necessary to always have a Set Square on his saddle. But it definitely fits into the absurdist worlds Jacovitti creates!
I already had a number of the 'Cocco Bill' books gifted to me by a good CFA-APA friend: Deiderik Van Rappard.. So instead, I bought a volume featuring 'The Zorry Kid'; Jacovitti's spoof on the famed ZORRO character..
I'm always at a loss, trying to describe Jacovitti's work to my friends.. Much of it, strikes me as reminiscent of Don Martin's MAD stuff. Especially the staging and the animated movements. Do I also detect a bit of Prohias' SPY vs. SPY here, too? Not sure. Some of the more grotesque surrealism, has something of a Basil Wolverton feel to it..
Either way, I really enjoy all of it!
Apparently, Jacovitti completed a very popular adaptation of 'Pinocchio'.. But alas, I haven't been able to locate that one. Instead, I lucked-into snagging another Jacovitti rarity: his 1983 'KAMA SUTRA' book!
Basic Blog decorum prevents me from sharing any of the bawdy/ribald pages from the interior of this remarkable volume.. But I can show you what the cover looks like:
Benito Jacovitti passed away at the age of 73, in December 1997. He created more than 60 different characters; and produced artwork & stories for more than 150 different books. He was easily one of the most prolific & original artists in comic-book history..
Why should it require taking a trip to Europe to get my hands on some of this stuff?!

That's all for now..See y'all, the next time!!