Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ghost Radio - A Skeleton Mechanical

Continuing work on animated visuals for the song Ghost Radio Part 1 (for girabbe).

For the video, I believe I have finally found a stride on the creation process - and am having fun now developing some decidedly bizarre mechanical denizens for the song. (As the musical artist put it to me, roughly translated here, this part (one) of the song is about a journey into the darkest part of the forest and the sights there). And I believe this strangely creepy mechanical device might fit right in:

(Just a note on the elements - this curious device is composed of an old vintage Skeleton wind up tin toy, old stereo equipment from the 1920's, and the background is a portion of a photo that was taken of an interior from the California ghost town, Bodhi).

Odd? Well, this project is an obvious departure from the all-ages audience of the most recent book project - "The Pumpkin Dream: A Cautionary Tale" and delves back into the worlds of Dada, and the Surrealist method of autonomic creation - to surprise even myself by what appears at the end of the process. Someday I'll have to upload more of that "fine art" - part of which is viewable on the wobblebox arts website in the category of drawing, for example:

So as for now, not even I know what strange creatures will be along the haunted travels through Ghost Radio Part One... the journey continues... and I hope you too enjoy the surprises.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bindlegrim's Sneak Peek Pumpkin Video

While my ultimate goal has not yet come to pass, to create an audio and/or video presentation of this book (maybe available through iTunes...?), I gave a quick go at this little promo video that covers a little under a third of the book... (continuing to play on that inspiration of graphics/animation from the 1930's, with some olde style title cards, etc., that developed from dingbats and borders in the newer version of the book that is available on Amazon).

I cringe to say it now, but I also did the music mix that is on this video. It is a not so great mix from the previous year with samples from various vintage Halloween songs, and was named after a really great short story by Peter Straub called "Pork Pie Hat" that captures the same mood of those old songs.

I, uhm, was doing a few holiday mixes at that time... but I would prefer to remix them all. Another one was for Christmas, and it featured samples from a now infamous radio interview with Joan Crawford and family... for the brave, both the Halloween and the Christmas mixes can be heard here at the moment:

Ultimately, I would love to remix them all and put some video imagery to them.... but, as my favorite mad scientist in the old Bugs Bunny cartoon says, my brain is "a wee bit small, but it will have to do"...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Coincidence of Pumpkin Dream Symbolism

While I think that everyone's personal experience of life is too rich and complex to be pared down to a set of symbols, (and this seems even truer during the layered rambles of dreams), I though it was interesting to note that while searching for "The Pumpkin Dream" via search engines, I kept running across results for sites that indicate what it supposedly means to have a pumpkin in your dreams.

What the heck..., I thought I would look into it, and got a fun surprise. The supposed symbolic meaning of the pumpkin really lends itself to the events in the poem... and I should probably be approaching this as something I meant to do, but it was just too fun not to share the coincidence.

1) Openness and receptiveness to new ideas and experiences

The Pumpkin Dream: A Cautionary Tale By Mr. Bumble Bindlegrim, featuring Halloween illustration by Robert Aaron Wiley (sepia version trick or treat clock)

Well, to be fair, the generality of this statement could lend itself to a host of events -- and pumpkins on Halloween night really are the beacons of new experiences. If you light a pumpkin on your doorstep you are asking for all hosts of creatures to come a knocking. And as a trick-or-treater it's a grand adventure into a strange night (with a pumpkin pail in hand to help you reap the rewards).

In "The Pumpkin Dream", the pumpkin Jack is the catalyst of experiences far beyond the norm of door-to-door trick-or-treat. He bears it for a while, just long enough for the main character to fill his head full of candy, but after that he's got much more to share. As the situation changes, he states, "It’s time for me to lead and sow these plastic pumpkin seeds, near open graves where boney sort in Danse Macabre now cavort,” and draws the main character out into the night for experience that involves real witches and monsters.

2) A situation in which time is running out (as in Cinderella where a carriage returns back to pumpkin form) 

The Pumpkin Dream: A Cautionary Tale By Mr. Bumble Bindlegrim, featuring Halloween illustration by Robert Aaron Wiley (sepia version mouse pumpkin dream)

Okay, again, to be fair, nothing lasts forever, and there's a time limit to most, if not all, experiences. But in some ways, pumpkins, especially those plastic candy buckets, are a symbol of trick-or-treating, and that, not only is Halloween night but one night a year, but that we all end up retiring those trick-or-treating costumes as we get older.And, maybe as Jack fears, the plastic pumpkin pails too!

Nothing is so serious in this story, but the clock tick tocks (see first image), and the warnings are there! Granpa has told our main character of all the lurking dangers that await a hapless youth on Halloween night. And Grandpa ought to know - he's got a hand full of educational brochures, and elderly wisdom to back up his story, that mere mortals who adventure too far will lose their souls to all sorts of haints and witches!

And of course matters turn worse, as the willful pumpkin Jack draws our main character out into the night after the trick-or-treating is over, and commences to stir up trouble with the Halloween natives none too happy with the turn of events. Our characters are in trouble and, yes, just like in Cinderella, there is indeed a time-sensitive situation here. They may not make it back home, and the clocks is still ticking!

Well, all that aside, the story is intended for most readers as a fun romp through Halloween night - but I couldn't resist a small amount of fortuitous literally interpretation. And while the poem is actually intended to have layers so that both adults and children can appreciate it, the symbol of the pumpkin as stated here was a complete though happy accident, and I thought it would be fun to share the observations. Muahahaha... Happy Hallowe'en 2011...!!!

The Pumpkin Dream: A Cautionary Tale By Mr. Bumble Bindlegrim, featuring Halloween illustration by Robert Aaron Wiley (sepia version Escher-style pumpkin and monsters)

PS - The sepia tone images used above were from an experiment for an alternative printed edition later abandoned due to unsatisfactory printing results - however I still love the way these look on backlit computer screens, and have saved them for a possible video version of the story this future season.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Summer Pumpkins (Tendrils, Flowers, Bees)

It has been amazing watching the development of pumpkin plants - they unfold with a multitude of purposes with reaching tendrils like hands, huge canopy leaves, centralized male flowers, and long reaching vines with female flowers and little pumpkin orbs. Today the opening of those flowers drove the bees mad - and I couldn't resist taking some photos:

Aside from the pumpkins, the garden has been full of life and color... and here are just a few of those other sights:

Happy Summer everyone from the garden and the wildlife at Ichabod's Cottage!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Pumpkin Dream - New Borders and Dingbats

After spending some time with "The Pumpkin Dream" (Industry Version) that I had devised for CreateSpace (via Amazon), I started to feel it was missing something. While the book felt fine in its original 7"x7" format for Blurb, the new 7"x10" page felt a little too open to me... and it wasn't long before I was pulling out InkScape (during this past week) and testing some spooky border flourishes for the pages. One such result (below) is this new internal page border, of which a slightly updated version, will soon makes its appearance in the final CreateSpace/Amazon version:

The Pumpkin Dream: A Cautionary Tale By Mr. Bumble Bindlegrim (page 7 with new dingbats), an illustrated Halloween poemk by author and illustrator Robert Aaron Wiley

I thought this was great fun to create! And from this border started to go a little crazy putting dingbats in a variety of place - now on the credits, dedication, and biography pages...

From there it was time to attack the cover which was actually the first thing that started to bother me, after I had initially termed the book complete. I felt the cover was not only too plain, but the cover illustration (which at full size has alot of detail) instead looked like a swirl of mush in a reduced size in both real life and as a thumbnail on a web screen. Taking a cue from the border work and dingbats of previous pages, the result came out in this manner:

The Pumpkin Dream: A Cautionary Tale By Mr. Bumble Bindlegrim (cover art with new dingbats), an illustrated Halloween poetry book by Robert Aaron Wiley

I have just uploaded these changes to CreateSpace and am awaiting the 48 hour file preview whereby the system makes sure they are printable files. I believe they have just rolled out a new system that lets you publish a book thru now, without having to wait for the proof to arrive at your door, (although I have to say they were always VERY speedy about getting proofs sent). When the files are approved, I plan to go ahead and have that process for sale on the Amazon website. (I'm not sure how long it will take images to update on the Amazon website, so I will submit some images to the book's gallery to make sure the new version is visible with all these new borders and dingbats.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Gaggle of Ghosts Goes to Town

I was listening to some retro-lounge music the other day - and came across an instrumental version of Mr. Ghost Goes to Town, (originally written in 1936 by Will Hudson, Irving Mills and Mitchell Parish.)  I had no idea there were so many cool versions of this song... each one worthy of a listen. Even today when I was going to say there were just three oldies of this tune - I found another blog writer who mentions two more (so that's a half dozen)!

1) I would have started first with the version by Louis Prima (1936), but can't find it anywhere as a sample online. It's a great version and it can be found on The Halloween Stomp mentioned in this entry: Halloween Music at 78 RPM.

2) The second in this list is by The 5 Jones Boys (1938), and though I'm having trouble finding information again about this band - I seem to remember they were known (minus the acoustic strumming) for creating most of their sounds with the voice: (and they use that to spooky effect here to make sounds somewhere between trumpets and theremins, with even the voice of Mr. Ghost making an appearance): 

3 & 4) For two more versions from around the 1930s (the song must have been really popular in that era), here are 2 versions featuring some early twang (one by The Tune Wranglers, and a 2nd by Zeke Manners and His Swing Billies) -- see Music/ Not Music for this entry featuring two early country/western versions: Mustic / Not Music: Three Versions of a Song About A Ghost

5) Switching gears just a bit the next one is an instrumental from The John Buzon Trio, and this is the one that spurred this entry. It's a version that will put a twitch in your tail bone, and be right at home in a cool retro lounge Halloween setting with its swinging organs and funky saxophone. (And if anyone has a collection of cool lounge Halloween tunes out there I would love to know about it!)

6) And finally for a bit of Halloween cheese in your trick-or-treat pail... here's another kicky version from the Lawrence Welk show featuring Bob Ralston in vampire attire playing the tune on the Thomas organ:

Well, do you suppose that's just for starters? With a song this catchy I have a feeling it hasn't fallen out of favor yet... but I think this covers most of the very early versions...? If you know of anymore, please post a comment.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ghost Radio - The Carriage of the Rokurokubi

Still progressing on the music video animation work for the new release by girabbe, and thought it might be of interest to post this odd little snippet from that work, of a carriage-like structure that hints at a Japanese yokai called the Rokurokubi moving through a landscape of ghost-ridden cathodes...

After all summer in Japan is the time for ghost stories... because the thought is that the chill you receive from the telling will cool you off from the hot weather. (Here's a link to The Roving Ronin who tells the history of Japanese ghost stories with a selection of different tales)... the ghost story candle ceremony the Roving Ronin describes on his page can be seen in a trailer for the movie Yokai - 100 Ghost Stories.

And, my favorite Japanese movie for ghost stories, for its beautiful cinematography and music of the biwa has to be Masaki Kobayashi's Kwaidan (based on stories from Lafcadio Hearn's collections of Japanese folk tales):

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Four Inspiring Halloween Artists

As I'm relatively new to creating my own vintage-inspired Halloween items, I am using this entry to mention some of the artists I find inspiring! And since my words alone cannot do them justice - I have provided many many links to their work:

Johanna Parker:
Johanna (website Johanna Parker Design) creates one-of-a-kind papier-mache folk-art objects with work that features a host of vintage-style holiday characters - owls, cats, bats, ghosts.... and (having just finished some work myself with one such character, I could be a bit partial to the new one shown below) - a mouse! All of these works have an eye for old world artisan details of rich patinas and line work, that create a piece that could be at home on your mantel all year long. (I'm also very fond of her 2D work and you can see some of that on her behind-the-scene illustration drawings on flicker; this 2D work is also appearing now via zazzle).

If you are reading this in early July 2011 you might have time to bid on this mouse!
For more information see her blog.

Lori Rudoolph:
Lori (web blog Retro Rudolph's) is another one of those artist who has monster skills in both 2D and 3D  work. Her papier-mache jack-o-lanterns, witches, devils, and veggie-people, start with the old school look of Halloween products (for example paper-pulp pumpkin lanterns from the 40s to 50s) but with her personal twist that features high-definition deep-brow grimaces and colorful paper additions and inserts. (Halloween for me is all about mysterious flickering lanterns and I love that many of her works offer you the opportunity for that after-dark spookiness). Well, her lanterns, bobble heads, and noise makers, are just for starters - see more of her work on flickr as well as etsy.

Check out the Retro Rudolph's blog for sneak peeks like this one!

Matthew Kirscht:
This artist (aka Shiver Bones) has a body of work beyond just Halloween - check out this flickr gallery of his surreal fine art; (and here is his main website This is a world unto itself filled with bizarre characters involved in all sorts of spooky behavior... that does indeed send shivers down your spine, and if you have any knowledge of vintage Halloween post cards and company lines, you'll love the tongue-in-cheek nods to those works (like this piece called the Hellfire Lantern that touches on a classic Beistle style the company sadly no longer pursues). Like that work, I'm truly fond of his line style in monochrome or classic black and orange... and his newest work recreates vintage comics merged with his Halloween imagery:

Weird Mysteries #5 Re-creation
See the Matthew Kirscht Halloween gallery on flickr.

And finally, somewhere between your gnarled post-season pumpkins and the most fascinating haunted house on the block -- there is that same sense of awe to be found in the artistically creepy work of pumpkinrot. With their added eye for photographic sensibilities, check out the yard displays and more in the pumpkinrot flickr galleries - (as well as the pumpkinrot main website and of all the things pumpkinrot finds interesting at pumpkinrot blog). 

Corn Monsters
Pumpkinrot on flickr

Love those pumpkin expressions? In recent news the pumpkinrot duo has created a line of pumpkins available for order from Primitives by Kathy. Check out the full catalog for a collection that includes Pumpkins of all sorts that include Reapers, Ghost Babies, Witchy, Sinister, and Charred!

The above pumpkin was found on the Pumpkinrot blog.
Pumpkinrot at Primitives by Kathy

Okay, well that's just a few - and I would love to write more on more Halloween artists but time to move on to other things (though perhaps I'll revisit this "ode to Halloween artists" in future entries)...  in the meantime I have left this page full of links for you to explore! Have fun!!!
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