Monday, October 31, 2011


As the witching hour is upon us for one of the best nights of the year, I thought I'd take a moment to share with you some of my favorite Halloween viewing. Who knows, maybe some of them are yours too.

Garfield's Halloween Adventure (1985) - Three years before the classic animated series Garfield and Friends, there was this great 30-minute short. It's Halloween and Garfield has one mission: get free candy! Heading out with his trusty fall-guy, Odie, the two end up in a heap of trouble when confronted by ghost pirates! Watching this as a kid, I'm man enough to admit that the ghost scenes, starting with the old man who told the tale of the pirates, really freaked me out. This was scary stuff when you're a youngster! Even in that period when I was growing up and slowly began to forget the thrills of my childhood, the one thing that always stuck with me was the signature crackle of the fire in the fireplace. I never forgot it, or this. And, much like the show that followed, watching it is still a treat nearly 30 years later.

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! (1966) - The seminal Halloween classic based on Charles Schultz's Peanuts comic strip, we follow each of the Peanuts gang on their adventures one Halloween night. Linus and his quest to meet the Great Pumpkin. Charlie Brown getting nothing but rocks from houses. And, of course, Snoopy as the World War I flying ace fighting against the Red Baron. As one of only animated specials still played every year, this is a must-see. No matter how many times you may have already, it never gets old and never loses its magic. That's the power of the Peanuts, and why, years after the strip ended with Schultz's death, they still go as strong today.

Evil Dead (1981) - Tagged as "the ultimate in grueling terror," this film lives up to that distinction. Following five teens who head for a getaway in a mountain cabin, they end up finding an archaeologists things including the Necronomicon, aka the book of the dead. Playing a recording of the archaeologist translating text from the book, they awaken something evil in the woods that comes for them one by one. This is the film that launched the careers of Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, and with good reason. On a budget a FRACTION of that of any other horror film you may have seen, it managed to accomplish the same effects in both visuals and storytelling. Sure, some of the more gruesome things don't hold up to scrutiny in today's CGI world, but guess what? Very few movies from the 80s do, so it's all good. A must for any true horror fan, especially on Halloween.

The Monster Squad (1987) - Take The Goonies, add monsters, and you've got Monster Squad. Several members of a monster club end up smack dab in the plans of Dracula's attempt to take over the world with the other Universal Monsters. Although far from cinematic gold, this movie is a fun romp from start to finish, showing kids taking the initiative where adults' common sense fails. This is also the movie that established the answer to the age old question: does wolfman have nards? Yes. Yes he does. 

Ghostbusters (1984) - No Halloween list is complete without this comedy classic. Three scientists believe in ghosts and discover a way to capture them. Forced to begin their own business, they end up in a fight for the world with a Sumerian demigod who takes the form of a giant marshmallow man! Unless you've been under a rock, you know what Ghostbusters is and what it's about. It's the movie that spawned two cartoons, hundreds of toys and a dozen different types of video games. Almost 30 years later, Ghost Fever is still in full-swing, and while they may not play the movie every year, you can still hear the classic Ray Parker, Jr. theme on the radio (at least here in New York, which is awesome).

Lonesome Ghosts (1937) - Disney's precursor to the Ghostbusters concept, Mickey, Donald and Goofy are ghost exterminators that are called to a haunted mansion by the bored ghosts looking for some victims to scare. This is the usual Disney short fare, full of slapstick and zany antics. Another one that creeped me out often as a kid, particularly because the older Disney cartoons had such moody background set pieces, and the hand-drawn animated had such an effect to it since it wasn't as smooth as today's computers. More personality.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Since Mattel aquired the license to Ghostbusters back in 2009, they've been steadily putting out a stream of products. Managing where Neca failed in 2004, they've released the actual Ghostbusters and look to be going into the villains soon. Then they began to delve into the realm of prop replicas, releasing the PKE meter whose only flaw is the sound effects, which match an old Tiger handheld game more than the movie.

But, this month, Mattel's Matty Collector division outdid themselves with the release of the ghost trap. This thing is insane with the level of detail that went into it. Not long before or after it's release, the proppers in the Ghosthead community began doing side-by-side comparisons between the toy and the parts they used to build their own real traps. Let me tell ya, it's pretty damn close.

Functionality wise, they went all out. The trap comes with two modes: prop and movie. Movie mode, you press the pedal once to open the trap, and again to close it. Once the "ghost" is trapped, the LEDs come on complete with sounds from the movie and "electric jolts." After a while, the "ghost" attempts to escape from the trap, causing it to jump. Prop mode allows you the same functions, but without the sound effects for display purposes.

This is a pretty impressive item. It puts the Kenner toy from the 80s to shame by far. Imagine growing up with this thing instead of that! If you're a Ghostbusters fan without the time or talent to build your own, getting your hands on this is the next best thing.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


New York Comic Con may only be four days (up from three, by the way), but it sure as hell takes up my entire month, which is why this entry is so delinquent since the con has been over about two weeks now.

Anyway, the show was decidedly bigger with the usual assortment of fanfare. Hasbro had a nice set-up with a giant Optimus Prime statue, a life-size Amazing Spider-Man statue, and all their Marvel figures duking it out in a diorama. Marvel and DC had the biggest booths with their characters prominently displayed. The toy booths looked like miniature flea markets with all the stuff crowded together. And, as usual, the Anime show was shoved off in a far removed corner. Although, instead of the basement, they got a subdivision of the second floor with massive windows and balconies.

And there was the CAG booth, sitting just below Artists Alley between a book about Jaws and some web sitcom. We got a lot of attention during the show, filling up three pages of the mailing list with hopefully future productive members of the group. We also moved quite a few Iconics, albeit at the educator discounted price. The other members who manned the table made some sales with their own stuff. My stuff, though, still going nowhere. Got a ton of Marvel Indexes nobody wants to buy, and Worst Case Scenario moved off the GWP table better than it did on ours. Weird. At least I was able to get around and see some friends and colleagues alike.

The crowds were immense. You could barely move Friday through most of Sunday. Hell, most of the panels I wanted to go to ended up shut out, especially the Archie one. There was the usual assortment of booth babes and girls in costume who probably don't want anything to do with our world for the rest of the year. Then there were the fan costumes, some that were as extravagant as they always are. If I had space to get a clear view I would have taken more costume pictures than I did. Think next year I'll do all my exploring early on Thursday while it's being set up.

We had some fun gatherings after the show, holding an altered drink and draw (our intended model bailed at the last minute, resulting in a shared drawing being passed around between artists over dinner) and then just going to dinner on Saturday. It was relaxing, and it was fun, and a nice break from being jammed in a sardine can.

One thing to note this time was the extreme LACK of discount comic bins. The only places that had them were the Midtown Comics booth and the Captain Action booth. A colleague was inclined to tell me that's a good sign, meaning the books have more worth than before now. I suppose that's true. Although, really, what you mostly find in those bins are books from the 90s, which is decidedly regarded as the worst period for comics. But, I guess the other good part of it is I didn't walk out with three longboxes of comics. But, I did get some awesome art, some books signed, and good deals on trades.

Overall, good show. Hopefully at lot of positive fallout comes from it. Next: Boston!