Let the Commenting Begin!

OK, when I started this blog I wasn’t sure about this whole blog thing. But I’ve been writing it every weekday for a few months now and it looks like it’s here to stay. So, we’ve turned on the comments feautre!

(Insert your own fanfare here)

Feel free to comment on anything you read by clicking “comments” at the bottom of each entry. Then just enter your info and comment away!

It’s just one of the many changes we have underway here at our humble little cartoon website. I hope you enjoy them, and I look forward to blogging with all of you!

“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” – Review

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown first aired in 1966, and, to quote Linus, it’s still “nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see.”

To be honest, I was ambivalent about seeing it. Although I’d decided not to sugarcoat my review of this “timeless classic,” I had planned to be kind. Peanuts was one of my big influences as a cartoonist, and I’d figured this would mostly be some nice holiday fluff for the ol’ blog and that would be that.

But once the Guaraldi music began and Linus was accusing Lucy of pumpkincide, I found myself reveling in the sweetly humorous humanity that is Schulz’s legacy.

There’s an embarrassment of comic riches here including Lucy’s football pulling, Snoopy’s pantomimed Red Baron dogfight, and of course, Charlie Brown’s “I got a rock.” (I laughed out loud every time. Honestly, who gives out rocks?!)

If you haven’t seen It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown in a while, treat yourself to it on DVD. (The disc also includes the 1972 You’re Not Elected, Charlie Brown in which Linus runs for student body president. Talk about good timing!) I think you’ll agree that while it’s no Charlie Brown Christmas, it’s a close second.

“I got a rock.” Hee-hee-hee… Gets me every time.

“From Hell” – Review

Based on Alan Moore’s graphic novel, From Hell is a flashy, dark, well-meaning film that ultimately fails to deliver on its promises.

I’d hoped for more from Johnny Depp and Ian Holm. Both are actors I respect, but unfortunately their talents are largely wasted on a plot that I figured out about a quarter of the way through.

Depp’s Inspector Abberline’s opium induced talents are called in to investigate a recent series of grisly murders. A certain Mr. Ripper apparently has it in for the local working girls. One in particular, Mary Kelly, played awkwardly by Heather Graham, tickles the inspector’s fancy and provides the necessary love interest.

It turns out, like most badly conceived thrillers, that the killer is the last person you’d suspect. (Actually, the second-to-last here.) Even though the actor’s voice was lowered when playing Jack, it was painfully obvious who it was early on, although the whole Freemason/Queen angle was intriguing if a bit labored.

The actual look of the film is quite good – pleasantly dark and Psycho-like in its renderings of all but the final killings. But unlike The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (also based on a Moore novel), the visual trappings don’t overcome the pedestrian direction.

It’s a nice enough choice for Halloween, and Graham isn’t difficult to look at (although the Carrot Top hair color drove me batty), but From Hell ends up being just another fill-in-the-blank Ashley Judd-esque disappointment – fun to look at, but hard to watch.

“Lady Death” – Review

Silence! You die now! Moo-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!

If you liked that, you’re gonna love Lady Death.

Lady Death‘s choppy animation, lame plot and dismal voice acting doom this comic book adaptation early on. It reminded me of the old Thundercats cartoons with the sex factor dialed up to eleven. But even with the busty albino heroine, by the end I was so bored I would have killed for a few good “Snarfs” and a lesson about fire safety.

The story centers on Hope, a young girl who’s evidently unaware that her cruel father, Matthias, is actually Lucifer. Matthias not only angers the townspeople, but also enslaves Hope’s love interest. The “Lord of Lies” is eventually found out, retreats to Hell and leaves his daughter to suffer the locals’ wrath. (Talk about your deadbeat dads!)

In a Salem-like trial, Hope is tricked by the ever-present, and ever-annoying, Pagan into begging for deliverance. She is granted a place in Hell where, like any angry teen, she dons a leather thong bikini and amasses an army of the undead to get her bloody revenge.

Along the way we’re treated to such wonderful dialogue as:

“Now you die!”
“Get out!”
“Join me!”
“Hear me!”
“Kill me now!”
and the ever-popular “Silence!”

As if that weren’t bad enough, the actors often sound like dim high-schoolers reading aloud from textbooks, which I have to assume is the target audience.

The DVD extras are uninspiring as well. Most of it is Ken Burns style panning over background paintings and pencil sketches, and I turned off the behind-the-scenes featurette after discovering the director was responsible for Disney’s Gargoyles.

Lady Death is a film where characters sport pointy beards, swords have names and clawed fists are constantly clenched. And in an era where graphics novels and superhero movies are gaining respect, this feels like a big step backwards.

“Abandon all hope ye who enter here” indeed.

Stephen Notley – Inside the Cartoonist’s Studio

This week Inside the Cartoonist’s Studio welcomes Bob the Angry Flower’s Stephen Notley!

Stephen Notley… Come on down!

1) If you were to cast a movie entirely with cartoon characters, what movie would it be and who would star in it?

Oh Jesus, I don’t know… if pressed I guess I’d say Fellini’s Satyricon and I’d cast the roles with as many of the Hanna-Barbara Laff-a-Lympics characters as I could get the rights to starting with Dynomutt and Grape Ape.

2) You’re a syndicate editor launching a new comic strip. What’s the worst possible title you can think of?

“The New Peanuts”

3) A light bulb over a cartoon’s head signifies an idea, while a string of random characters denotes swearing. Invent a new cartooning icon and what it means.

The new icon is a sheath of flame surrounding a character, denoting solid financial sense.

What, no Captain Caveman?!

Thanks Stephen for playing along! Be sure to check out Bob the Angry Flower for all of your angry flower humor needs! And buy one of the Apostrophe posters while you’re at it!