Friday, June 29, 2012

Have a Good Funeral, My Friends! Sartana is Paying!

Our final Spagetti Western drawing for this week is a quiet moment out on the porch with Sartana, one of Euro-cinema's gunslinging legends.  The character originated with and was played four out of five times in the official canon by the great Gianni Garko (and once by smiling George Hilton...who's still not my favorite, but for whom my opinion has softened over time).  While he started out as a more standard hero, Sartana soon became a seemingly omniscient angel of vengeance as the films rolled out, and his arsenal of bizarre weaponry developed with him. (Some genre critics claim similarity to Bond, but I saw it more like the makeshift weaponry of the Lone Wolf and Cub series.)  Naturally, like Django, Sartana was also featured in a host of knock-offs and the usual character dub-jobs (ie. since all Spaghettis were shot without sound, when they dubbed in the voice, they'd just call the lead "Django" or "Sartana" whether they had any similarity to Nero or Garko or not).  If you can track them down, the series is an awfully good time...though don't save George's lone outing for last...stick with Garko.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

WARLOCK: The Movie (1975)

This is my poster for a would-be Adam Warlock movie that I had hoped was going to be included in a Comic-con themed group art show.  I accidentally jumped the gun putting this together, and the event didn't happen.  Remember that Warlock test piece I put up a few weeks back?

The cosmic characters have long been some of my favorites in the Marvel Universe, particularly those penned by Jim Starlin.  Thanos is a fantastic villain (and apparently going to be in the next Avengers movie...). Adam makes for a bizarre hero with a cigar-chomping troll, Pip, as a best friend.  Then there's Drax the Destroyer, who was created to destroy Thanos, but I guess only recently, forty years after his creation.  And the deadly assassin Gamora, who, in her slinky fishnet outfit, was twenty years ahead of the superhero sexpots that would really begin to dominate in the 90's.

Now some may criticize me for lifting these poses and whatnot from others work...but in my mind, those old movie posters were made from set photos, so wouldn't the comics I was referencing be the same?  Anyhow, it certainly owes a debt to the aforementioned Starlin, Ron Marz, Al Milgrom, and many others who brought these cosmic stories to life.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

"...But don't touch my coffin."

The second entry to Spaghetti Western Week is Franco Nero in perhaps his best known gunslinging role in Sergio Corbucci's Django (1966).  Perhaps one of the grimiest Westerns ever made, it opens with the hero dragging an old coffin through muck into a sad and seemingly abandoned town.  From there, it turns into a wild shootout between Django, the Mexican Bandits, and crazy Major Jackson who runs a personal army of klansmen.  Fans of Reservoir Dogs will perhaps appreciate the ear-slicing scene that was one of the elements that earned the film a banning in many countries.  Dark, violent, and enjoyable, it's one of the classics of the genre. (Side Note: In the Jamaican film, The Harder They Come (1972), it's a screening of Django that inspires Jimmy Cliff's later rampage.)

Monday, June 25, 2012

La Resa Dei Conti

With the sun shining bright and summer in full force, it's well nigh time for Spaghetti Western Week!

We kick things off with a drawing of Tomas Milian as Cuchillo. The character appeared in two films by Sergio Sollima: The Big Gundown (aka. La resa dei conti, 1966) and Run Man Run! (Corri uomo corri!, 1968).  Gundown is easily considered one of the tops of the genre (if you're gonna watch it, you gotta track down the uncut version), although all three of Sollima's westerns are very well regarded (Face to Face (Faccia a Faccia) 1967, is probably my personal favorite.).  I believe the above was drawn from a publicity still for Run Man Run!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Even Bad Wolves Can Be Good...

Our final musician this week is one Domingo Zamudio...better known as Sam the Sham of Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs.  Born in Dallas, Texas (1937), Sam took on his trademark loungey robe and turban and named his band the Pharaohs after Yul Brynner's character in The Ten Commandments.  In '65, the band had it's biggest hit with "Wooly Bully", which managed to climb the charts in an otherwise British Invasion dominated period.  And while "Wooly" remains a bar song classic, it was their other hit, "Li'l Red Riding Hood" that first captured my imagination.  On one hand, it's a sort of cute song full of innuendo...but on the other, Sam's method of growling out the lyrics (he adopted the moniker "Sham" as indicative of his vocal ability) along that fat bass line turns it in something creepy and almost otherworldly.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Cause Now You Set My Soul on Fire....

Our second musician for the weak is the fantastic LaVern Baker (1929-1997). A fantastic R&B singer with a string of hits through the 1950's and 60's, most might recognize LaVern for the fun and bouncy "Tweedle Dee". I first fell in love with her work when her single "Soul on Fire" was featured in Alan Parker's controversial horror-mystery Angel Heart.  Granted, that was the soundtrack for the over-the-top sex scene that reportedly got Lisa Bonet ousted from The Cosby Show. (Am I dating myself?)  Nevertheless it remains a sultry and steamy classic.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

We Interrupt This Broadcast...

I had forgotten that I had not posted my latest painting to my sites.  Obviously, with this post, I've remedied this gap in post related art communication.  I only wish the photo better communicated the details of the all that murk, there is some, I swear.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Candy-colored Clown They Call the Sandman...

Another week in music for this round of drawings, starting with the darkly spectacled, angelic-voiced Roy Orbison.  A favorite of my dad (Happy Father's Day, dad!), I've been listening to Roy's tunes since I was a lad.  Born in Vernon, Texas, Roy would first record for the legendary Sun Records before becoming a regular hit-maker in the 1960's.  Personal tragedy and difficulty adjusting to the changing sounds, Roy  faded from the limelight for much of the 70's and 80's before experiencing a revival as the 90's rolled around. After success with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne as the supergroup the Traveling Wilburys and a final hit album with Mystery Girl, Roy passed away in 1988 at only 52. Though the use of "In Dreams" as a favorite of the psychotic Frank Booth in David Lynch's Blue Velvet added a disturbing lilt to the song, it remains perhaps my favorite of Roy Orbison's catalog.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Another Weekend Oddity...

Nothing particular in mind, just goofing off on a placemat.

Friday, June 15, 2012

"The important thing in writing is the capacity to astonish. Not shock - shock is a worn-out word - but astonish."

The final author of the week is literary wild man Terry Southern (1924-1995).  Born in Alvarado, Texas, Southern would serve in WWII, hit the Sorbonne on the G.I. Bill, become part of the both the Greenwich scene of the 50's as well as the Swinging Sixties in London before working as a prominent screenwriter in the 70's.  I first became aware of Terry as a screenwriter, particularly with Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove (1964) (He also wrote the scripts for Easy Rider and Barbarella, among others.) The first book of Terry's that I tracked down was The Magic Christian (1959) due to my love of the uneven but wonderfully bizarre film of the same name, starring Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr.  I've since read and seen the majority of this master satirist's work.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

“Martyrs are needed to create incidents. Incidents are needed to create revolutions. Revolutions are needed to create progress.”

Our second author for this week is Chester Himes (1909-1984).  In academia, Himes is better recognized for his works concerning social and political issues for African Americans, but I came to know him for his series of detective novels featuring Coffin Ed and Gravedigger.  Depicting Harlem in the 1950's, the novels fit in the hard-boiled style but feature outlandish characters and situations that border on the cartoonish, while also delving into the same serious racial issues that Himes other books dealt with.  For Love of Imabelle (aka. A Rage in Harlem, 1957) and Cotton Comes to Harlem (1965) are perhaps the best known, though I enjoyed them all.  A note of caution, Himes' last Ed and Digger book, Plan B, is not the place to start. The novel was left unfinished and features an apocalyptic race revolution, not unlike Sam Greenlee's 1969 novel, The Spook Who Sat By the Door, that requires the context of the previous books.

Monday, June 11, 2012

"You got to look on the bright side, even if there ain't one."

This week's series is fellas you don't get to see all that often: authors.  I picked a few that I'm fond of who I don't really ever recall being displayed pictorially.

We kick things off with Samuel Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961) whose Sam Spade became one of the most influential private detective characters in literature despite only being the protagonist of one novel, The Maltese Falcon (1930), and a couple of minor short stories.  My first run-in with Dashiell was Red Harvest, a gritty crime story of racketeers and corruption that featured the surly and stocky Continental Op.  The book was one of the progenitors of the "servant of two masters" plot-line that led to such films as Kurosawa's Yojimbo (1961) and a Leone's Fistful of Dollars (1964).

Friday, June 08, 2012

Planet of the Vampires!!!

Apologies for the hiatus on updates, took a little vacation which happily took me off the grid for a bit.

Today's quickie is in honor of the release of Prometheus, Ridley Scott's prequel of sorts to his sci-fi classic Alien (1979).  As many critics have noted over the years, Scott's film appears to owe quite a debt of influence to Mario Bava's 1965 shocker in space, Planet of the Vampires (Terrore Nello Spazio).  Do an image search and you're sure to find comparisons between the giant skeletons on board the derelict ship of Bava's with the "space jockey" of Scott's, which appears to be a plot point in Prometheus.  Bava's film is simultaneously a throwback of sorts to earlier sci-fi films while also having an innovative and strange production design (such as the high-collared, black leather spacesuits worn by the cast).