Written and Illustrated by Dave Baker
The Tall Man is my latest obsession.
This past weekend I attended a mini film festival at my friend Graham Skipper’s abode. He showed numerous cult horror films. Many of which are deserving of a wider appreciation.
One of the films that Graham chose to show was Phantasm II. Previous to last weekend I was aware of the Phantasm franchise but had never delved too deeply into it. I’m not sure why. They always looked right up my alley, but circumstances never brought us together, I suppose.
You know how it is. You see a DVD box from across a crowded video rental store or a poster J-peg on a legal, or maybe not so legal, streaming site, and you say to yourself, “Self, I’m going to fucking watch that movie. That looks right up my alley.” But inevitable an avalanche of diversions, cult classics, and trips to the local comic book store eat up your time.
Needless to say, after the first few frames of Phantasm II, I was hooked. Phantasm is my new favorite horror franchise. From the atmosphere to the grit of the initial entry to the low budget charm of the later installments, Phantasm is the horror franchise that I’ve been waiting years to discover.
I also had the unique experience of watching the out of order, which made things extra creepy cause I didn’t really know what was happening at times. I consumed the Phantasm movies in this order:
I’m not sure why I didn’t go back and watch the initial entry that sparked the franchise first, before immediately going on to the third film, but I did. I couldn’t help myself. One of the most interesting parts of the Phantasm films are the endings. The films are structured more like old serials. They’re episodes in a television show. You just have to wait a decade in-between installments. It’s both maddening and exhilarating. The ending of part 3 is particularly wonderful.
The face of the franchise is Angus Scrimm aka The Tall Man and he is one of the most interesting performers I’ve seen in a long time. I know I’m about forty years late to the game but he really is delightful in the part of the unnamed inter-dimensional grave thief. There’s an understatedness to his at times campy delivery that I find mesmerizing. I realize that’s a contradiction, but it’s true. He straddles that line very well.
The real person to discuss when waxing romantic about the virtues of Phantasm is writer/director Don Coscarelli. The man’s imagination and storytelling prowess are on display at every turn. It’s quite inspiring.
The Phantasm series is the perfect example of a franchise that is both intellectually stimulating, visually exciting, and, at times, shit your pants scary. It’s the perfect cocktail of fun, scares, gore, and action.
The Phantasm series needs a new installment. It needs a fifth, and probably final, entry. I desperately want to see Reggie, Mike, Jody, and the Tall Man on screen one final time. Phantasm: OblIVion is great, I really love that movie, but it’s not how the franchise should go out. It’s been fifteen years since the last direct to video installment was released. The franchise has a rapid fan base and is in perfect position for a comeback.
You hear what I’m saying, Hollywood Producers?
Make it happen.
I’ve Seen The Future And It Will Be
Robert, and his lovely partner Sabrina, threw an Art Party last night. Which basically consists of a bunch of nerds sitting in a circle, drawing, and not talking to each other. This is how we socialize. Yes, we’re that cool.
During the Art Party, Robert and I worked on Action Hospital pages. To say that we’re gentlemen travelers of the illustrated page might be appropriate.
There are many ways to make comics. Sometimes you just have to make them in a large group of people who are also making comics.
I’m not exactly sure what I’m miming in the photo above but I think it’s proper inking posture. Or it could be that I’m about to show Robert how gravity works.
The pages are progressing at a steady pace. Robert’s really getting into a groove. Look at that Sibling enjoying her bowl of dirt. How awesome is that? The dude is really starting to kick into high gear.
Towards the end of the night our host Sabrina served us veggie and fruit smoothies. To say that making comics, drinking smoothies and then making some more comics is anything less than a perfect saturday night would be an egregious lie.
Also: can we just digress into douche bag Bro-town for a minute? Look at Sarah. How did I pull that shit? hubba hubba, man. I’ll take two with a side of hells yes. Thank you very much.
There’s really no reference in this post’s title. It’s just funny to put an F before Art it makes FART. No points.
Until Next Time,
Hollywood, Ca 2013
Written by Dave Baker
Illustrated by Robert Negrete
Lettered by Henry Barajas
ACTION HOSPITAL: EXPLOSION OF AWESOME!
Well, we’re off and running. Action Hospital is moving forward.
Our first page went live today and the response has been wonderful. We’re all super thankful that everyone has responded the way that they have. It’s been really nice seeing people coming together in order to help us promote our work.
If you like what you’re seeing here in the Action Hospital you should check out the websites of the people who make it. Action Hospital #1 has been put together by myself, Robert Negrete and Henry Barajas.
Henry has is a marvelous writer in his own right. His work can be seen in the amazingly funny comic Captain Unicorn . Henry is also a writer for the Tucson Weekly and a standup comedian of some note. All that and Henry can find the time to letter our little book. Impressive, right? He’s a beast. The dude must sleep even less than I do.
Robert is a wicked talented illustrator. His pages look like posters. His talents cannot be exaggerated. You can see more of his work at RobertNegrete.Com Robert is a knockout illustrator and I’m a lucky dude to be working with them.
I’m very thankful to be working with these two gentlemen. I’m also very thankful for the outpouring love and encouragement towards us. We’ll try and not disappoint you guys.
I love Billy Zane. More than is probably healthy. While I was drawing Awesomenaut, a book about a time traveling super spy I drew a few years back, I watched The Phantom on a loop. I’m not exaggerating. Literally on a loop. I don’t even know how many times I’ve seen the film.
The Phantom, the character, holds a special place in my heart. To me, he represents raw potential. Infinite possibilities. Untold stories. The Phantom AKA Kit Walker is the 22nd inheritor of the mantle of the Phantom. He’s a crime fighter who inherited the lifestyle. He’s trapped in the family business. He believes in what he’s doing but he still is in the family business. I see him as a second generation plumber. People need plumbers but nobody really wants to be a plumber.
The Phantom is a symbol. Since all of the Phantoms have been men there’s an urban legend that he’s a ghost or that he’s immortal. There’s a mystical narrative that surrounds The Phantom that would be so constricting as a persons. You’d never be able to put your personal stamp on anything you did. You’d always be defined by your forefathers actions. You’d be perpetually entombed in the personal legend of your family tree. That’s such a great concept for a character and such a tragic coffin of a life.
I’m not going to lie, I’ve read a lot of Phantom comics and I’ve never really read one that I loved. I guess it has to do with the character’s long history. There have been a lot of writers who have tackled him and most of them just place emphasis on the fighting and the heroing. His popularity has wained over the past fifty years so I would assume that that, coupled with the fact that the main demographic of Phantom readers is people in their 80’s, has contributed to his stories being limited to the action adventure genre. I’d love to see some Phantom comics that are about Kit Walker as a person. I mean, sure I like punching and spandex as much as the next guy, but I would love to see a bit more complexity in the Phantom stories that I read.
Also: the Dynamite reboot of the Phantom was not for me. Sorry, Alex Ross. Didn’t do it for me.
I bring the Phantom up because that’s the headspace that I’m in currently. I’m really amped to be writing and co-drawing this comic. I have a lot of things to say through these characters and I want to maximize the potential of the stories on every page. That’s one of the reasons why our issues are going to be so small. We’re doing hyper compressed, extremely stylized narrative-explosions.
The Phantom, the ghost who walks, is the spirit animal of this book.
Until Next Time,
Tucson, Az 2013
Don’t Shit Yourself In The Spotlight
When you’re making comics with someone, or pairing up with anyone to do anything creative, it’s immediately apparent who is serious and who isn’t. Sometimes it can feel like you’re in an old-time jailbreak movie, and when the spotlight is trained on you by the potbellied tower guard, your first impulse it to shit your pants. It’s important that you find people to work with who have than impulse but then start sprinting for the wall.
You need to be a team. Two matching black and white be-jumpsuited creators desperately struggling against the confines of life and the realities of the comic book industry.
The key to creating interesting work is finding someone who is actually interested in creating something. That seems like a pretty self evident statement. But you’d be surprised how many people are ‘trying’ to do something without ever really trying. They just have the identity of struggling against something. And when those ideological barriers are torn down? They go crazy.
That’s why it’s important to find people who want to make cool things, not be seen making cool things. There’s a massive difference.
Robert Negrete is one of those people. He’s dtf. He’s down to fly. He’s got the skills, his bags are packed and he’s ready to rock and roll.
He’s been doing some really interesting things on both his tumblr and deviantart pages. The work that he’s creating has been marvelous as of late. I may be a little biased due to my close personal relationship and the fact that I’ve been writing the stuff that he’s been drawing lately, but whatever. That’s irrelevant. Just look at his awesome drawings, man.
Look how awesome that little plant monster is! How dope is that? All I had to do was say, “Robert, draw a plant monster eating a bowl of cereal and he draws the best super intelligent plant moster ever. This is why comics rocks. Super intelligent plant people.
Be sure to check out his website too. He’s got some really nice pieces on there.
The Micron Is Mightier Than The Sword
I’m starting to ink my Action Hospital pages. I should have something cool to show you soon.
The title for this post comes from Doc Frankenstein #1. 5 points if you somehow guessed that.
Until Next Time,
Hollywood, California 2013
It’s like riding a bike…made of poverty and rejection
Drawing comics is the hardest thing any human being could ever do. Lance Armstrong had fucking steroids. You know what cartoonists have? A pen. It’s just you and a blank piece of paper. That’s one of the many reasons why the comics medium is so amazing. It offers so many opportunities. There’s no restrictions. The only limit is you. The only downside? No safety net. If you don’t know how to draw that dragon or that house or that arm everyone will know instantly. Because it’s there. It’s not right. It’s just sticking out saying, ” I’m not right. Look at me.”
I’m currently in the beginning stages of penciling. All the layouts are done and the rough shapes and angles are there but none of the specifics or details are laid down. I usually try and work pretty quick when I’m laying out a page. It’s very evident when something is working. Equally so when it isn’t.
I’ve been blasting through things on the page I’m currently working on. I’m not sure if that’s because I’m rusty so I’m not seeing everything that I should be or if I’m just better at this than I’m remembering.
I’m really trying to push the expressions side of things. I’m having a hard time getting things to be as malleable as I’d like. This is the beginning of this comic though so, I’m sure by the end of it I’ll have Ye Ole ‘Oh FUCK’ face down pat. That seems to be the expression that comes up most often.
Drawing is a constant evolution. Or at least it should be. Finding stylistic nooks and crannies always get me really excited about the work I’m doing. Laying down the broad strokes of composition and narrative have their place too, but usually it’s the little things that get me jazzed.
Case in point. Robot arms.
In the second Action Hospital Robert and I are introducing a transgender character that has a robot arm. I got so amped about the idea of robot arms that I’m going to make them ubiquitous in our universe. Robot arms are the cell phones of the Action Hospital.
I really dig drawing nonsense tech. I suck at drawing ACTUAL tech. But if I can just put some weird plates and circles on shit, I’m a happy camper.
Look at that robot arm. None of that works. None of that is functional in any way. But it looks cool, right? Well, at least I think it looks cool.
I’ve been really pushing myself to create more dynamic layouts. I’ve been attempting to really show movement. That’s something I’m typically not great at. I draw books about people sitting in chairs and crying. Action Hospital isn’t that type of book. It’s big. It’s fun. It’s bombastic. It’s got super-intelligent plant people.
The title is from DC Comic Showcase #30. If you knew that: 5 points.
Until Next Time ,
Hollywood, Ca 2013