Friday, 7 December 2018

Omnibot’s Robot Root-Out: Arfon meets Big Daddy

...Deep under Arfon’s studio lays an extensive collection of random artefacts thirty years in the making. His robotic assistant Omnibot has been assigned the mammoth task of excavating the collection. What will Omnibot uncover today...!

Omnibot discovered some great curios one of which is from 1987 when I was 8 years old and my father took us as a family to the Arfon Leisure Centre in Caernarfon, North Wales to see Big Daddy wrestle. I wasn’t a wrestling fan myself but I would watch ITV's World of Sport wrestling coverage (it broke the monotonous gap between No 73 and the A-Team on a Saturday) but being a ‘casual’ wrestling fan aside I was a child of the 80’s and so naturally knew whom Shirley Crabtree, Jr. AKA Big Daddy was. Standing 6ft 2 inches and weighing in at 26 stone (according the 1984 Big Daddy Annual) and armed with the biggest chest in Britain measuring 64 inches (according to the Guinness Book of Records) he was a regular face and name on television.
I remember being ushered into a dark, loud room filled with people. I could see the ring but only when the spectators remained in their seats (I eventually stood on a pool table in the corner) as we watched Big Daddy ‘fight’ equally famous Giant Haystacks (Martin Austin Ruane 1946 –1998), and to be perfectly honest I remember being somewhat underwhelmed by the event then my mother took me into the corridor. As I asked what we were doing there when a massive hand landed on the top of my head! I looked up to see who this hand, which seemed bigger than my entire head belonged to I saw a giant smiling down at me it was Big Daddy! He made his way down the narrow corridor and took a seat behind a small table at the end of it, on the table were three photos and my mother instructed me to pick one and I picked this one of him holding a pig and the big man then signed it. It’s a distant memory, vague in parts but that was the time I met Big Daddy.  
Not long after that he delivered his famous ‘Daddy Splash’ to Mal "King Kong" Kirk who sadly died shortly after and although an inquest maintained that Kirk had a serious heart condition which could have proved fatal at any given time Big Daddy still blamed himself and so went into semi retirement from wrestling as the UK turned its attention to the world of American wrestling on Sky Tv. Although people’s opinions seem divided on his actual contribution to British wrestling he was without a doubt a part of British life for a time because if he wasn’t popping up as a guest on something he would be in Buster or adverts promoting Daddies sauces. His very name would be used by others as a way to determine the size of something. I will always have this memory of him. Who ‘Orsen’ the star pig was I have no idea, let me know in the comments if you do!

Omnibot also found this!
Following Big Daddy's death, some of his effects were put up for auction at Sotheby's on the 10th of July 1998 and one of those items was this very singlet, his name sown on (by his wife) we are now offering this magnificent piece of British Sporting memorabilia up for sale on the eBay page, follow this link to find out more and own a piece of history!
Proceeds help to fund my work.     

Dedicated to Shirley Crabtree, Jr ‘Big Daddy’ (14 November 1930 – 2 December 1997)
© Arfon Jones 2018. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

RIP Stan Lee (1922 – 2018)

In my eyes there have been three figures whom I have long admired that during the past 100 years (I believe) transformed a creative industry, raised a standard and cultivated talent that have produced iconic figures that will forever remain in popular culture and the public’s conscious, those names are Walt Disney, Jim Henson and Stan (the man) Lee. Sadly we lost Stan Lee yesterday and although it was inevitable, it’s still a sad fact that from this moment on, we now live in a time in which Stan Lee is referred to in the past tense.  

Yes, opinions differ as to his actual claim of ownership for many of the characters (please don’t bother; I know all the stories) that never really entered into it for me, I didn’t just hold him as just the ‘creator of’, that was Bob Kane’s “shtick” Stan Lee was more than that, Stan lee WAS Marvel comics. He was the kid with ambitions of someday becoming a writer that started out as an assistant at Timely Comics in 1939, whose main duty was making sure the artist’s inkwells were filled but by 1941 was the interim editor (aged only 19) where he continued to climb the ranks as not only a writer but the comic-book division's editor-in-chief, art director and eventually its publisher in 1972. By then he had molded the company into the Marvel Comics we know and love today, establishing a distinctive writing style, for many the very definition of what a comic book is. Even during the later years when he was no longer involved with the comics themselves he was still the figurehead and public face for Marvel be it through numerous comic convention appearances and colleges lectures before moving to California in 1981 to develop Marvel's TV and movie properties assuring continued success for the Marvel heroes for many years to come and it was here that Smiling Stan managed something that no other comic book contributor had; he was no longer just known to comic readers he had made himself a household name, because even if you hadn’t read a Marvel comic in your life you would have seen his name on the credits of something, heard his voice on Spiderman & His Amazing Friends or even (if you were extra geeky) spotted him on the jury in, The Trial of the Incredible Hulk! (But this of course was long before his cameos were a staple of a Marvel movie). The simple fact is, Stan was always there- he was a salesman and loved the attention and so he had a knack of getting his face into everything and this ultimately led to the ill feeling between him and his fellow-creators. A great shame. 

I on the other hand I relished all he did, by the early 90’s I had an after school/summer job at a vintage comic warehouse and so if I wasn’t reading the comics themselves or his Soapbox columns I was reading Wizard Magazine, Comics International, Previews or Duncan McAlpine’s Comic Book PriceGuide for Great Britain so it seemed that not a week would go by without Stan’s name cropping up in something, I even had the pages of How to Draw Comics the "Marvel" Way and Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics practically committed to memory! Then in (I think) around 1995 Stan appeared on Children’s BBC of all places promoting the Spider-man series, as he delivered all the classic lines it struck me, “I want to meet Stan Lee” I, at that point still had a notion that I would be working in comics and it would only be a matter of time before our paths would cross, however the years rolled by and my life took a different route, and it seemed the only opportunity to see him presented to me was in the background of Marvel movies but I was still determined to meet him, more so when a seemingly reputable convention dashed my hopes in 2012 but the ambition was finally realised in 2014 at the London Film& Comic Con in what had been billed as his last ever-European signing appearance. OK, it was a massive event, thousands of people in attendance and so it was a limited ‘meet and greet’ I didn’t get to spend an hour with him, discuss his work and natter about comic book movies, show off my portfolio but I did get to thank him for all that he had done, for always being there, and I got to see that familiar smile and twinkle in the eye in return, in person, an important moment to me.
So long Stan, thanks for everything. Excelsior!
© Arfon Jones 2018. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Did you see me on S4C's Heno Halloween Special?

Mim was intrigued to know why there was a television crew in the studio on Monday, well I can tell you that it was to film an item for Welsh television series Heno (Welsh word for Tonight) a Welsh language television magazine show for S4C who you might recall were here back in July documenting my 24-HourShark-A-Thon. Heno came back for a return visit to find out more about my fascination with all things horror related for their Halloween special that aired last night- a show which ran parallel with the premiere of a locally produced horror movie, Humanoids from Outer Space produced by my good friend Sion Gareth Griffiths. Humanoids from Outer Space is a love letter to the B movies we love so much with a difference... it takes place in North Wales! Follow this handy link to the Los Anglesey YouTube channel and check out the film and other works for yourselves! The item featured various shots from around the studio and even featured a cameo from Orion! (My cat) as ever you can count on me to provide non-welsh speakers a transcript of the interview...  

Introduction by presenter, Gerallt Pennant, “Welcome back to Caernarfon at the premiere of Humanoids from Outer Space produced by movie company Los Anglesey. Horror movies are very popular this time of year and I have met two who absolutely adore horror movies that unsurprisingly love this very night.... Halloween”
Item starts with various shots from around my Studio (Voice over)  “It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that one room in the home of Arfon Jones is like a temple to horror movies and that he is the high priest of the frightening and scary...”
Arfon: “The reason people like these sort of movies is because people like being frightened, it’s like a rollercoaster- there is still an element of control to it. We know that for the next hour and a half something is going to happen but it will be fun- more so if we are watching it with someone else because we laugh if the other person is startled by it.”

Cut’s to scenes from the new Halloween movie,
(Voice over) “But if there is one movie that is synonymous with this time of year it’s Halloween, and perhaps, secretly, we all enjoy that chill down the spine...”
Cut to Alun Parrington: “The new Halloween movie is different to all the other horror franchises in that it has disregarded all but the original, so we see the return of Jamie Lee Curtis’s character Laurie Strode forty years after and it’s wonderful to see how the events of the previous forty years have affected her and her family... her daughter and granddaughter and I think anyone that goes to see it will enjoy it.”
Gerallt Pennant: “And Alun Parrington also takes part in the series ‘Project Z’ as seen here on S4C the series has been nominated for a Children’s BAFTA...”Cut’s to footage of Project Z

Alun Parrington: “I’ve always been fascinated by these horror movies, so to be involved in Project Z for S4C to be have the makeup applied, the clothes, the blood it was unreal, it was also amazing  seeing the children’s response to us as zombies.
Gerallt Pennant: “While there is cinema there will be horror and while there will be a Halloween people like Arfon Jones and Alun Parrington will be in seventh heaven... or hell!”  
Alun Parrington: “It’s the last day of October, Halloween the perfect night for us to celebrate what frightens us and dress up as the characters that scare us.
Arfon: “This time of year is my Christmas! I’m fascinated by it all and this is the only month of the year where I can go into shops, turn the tv and everyone seems to be equally interested in the same things as me, and perhaps I don’t stand out quite as much as I would have the rest of the year....”
Closes with scenes from Project Z.

There we go my thanks to Heno for including me in their fun Halloween special!

© Arfon Jones 2018. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Arfon's Studio: Tour

I had a television crew in the studio on Monday and as soon as they had finished recording and packed away their equipment I shot this footage of the studio with my mobile phone, as I thought a mini tour was long overdue... However my friend Rob has since added that I should have turned my phone sideways and actually provided some sort of commentary! It hadn’t crossed my mind at the time, but who knows? Perhaps down the line I will do another, but in the meantime check this one out and feel free to ask questions! Enjoy!

© Arfon Jones 2018. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Arfon's Studio: Confession of an addict

My name is Arfon and I have an addiction... Having resisted for some years I gave in to it back in 2016. At first it was just something that my friends were into, they tried to get me into it but I resisted but eventually gave in thinking I had the willpower to control it. I thought I could keep myself in check but I was wrong and I’m still coming to terms with my addiction and so that is why I am confessing my problem to you all today, admitting that I have a problem is the road to recovery, ladies and gentlemen of the internet I am a Funko Pop! Vinyl-Junkie.
So what is this addictive substance known as “Pops”?  Well it’s a type of vinyl toy created by manufacturers of licensed pop culture toys Funko in 2010. Stylized to appeal to people that have a fondness for nostalgia and figures from popular culture, intrigued to see them adapted into a Japanese Chibi style. There are literally hundreds of these out there, sold on every convention corner covering all manner of licensed brands and franchises. Although easily obtainable through dealers some are harder to find than others, often referred to by dealers as “retired” or “vaulted” as they might no longer be produced and these have been known to go for high sums of money.

What can I say? I’m not normally one for ‘cute’ but I rather like the Japanese Chibi influenced figures, particularly when applied to characters usually regarded to be grotesques, hence why I started with the Metaluna Mutant and The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Believe it or not I have actually managed to restrain myself somewhat, only buying ones based on my favorite movies or television characters that might have directly influenced or inspired me over the years even then I had to scale down slightly because sure enough they started to pile up around the studio. So now a shelf runs partially around the studio displaying them.   

Of course I am not really an addict; I can quit any time I want to! But if Funko should read this- Aside from re issuing Indiana Jones and Ace Ventura figures, here are some that I would like to see produced, the classic King Kong from 1933, Gamera, Jack Nicholson’s Joker, Danny DeVito's Penguin, Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman, Tommy Lee Jones's Two-Face, Jim Carrey's Riddler, Arnold Schwarzenegger's Mr. Freeze, Uma Thurman's Poison Ivy, Captain Planet, Red Dwarf, Columbo, The Mask (movie), Dumb and Dumber, Colonel Sanders, Ronald McDonald, Burger King, Hooters Girl, The Crypt Keeper, ALF, Inspector Gadget, The Addams Family, Men in Black, Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman, The Terminator and Gort... 

© Arfon Jones 2018. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

RIP Norm Breyfogle (1960 –2018)

Saddened by the news that comic artist Norm Breyfogle passed away last week in Houghton, Michigan at the age of 58. I never met the man and didn’t know that much about him, but I was very much a fan of his work. Throughout the 90’s I collected Batman comics and amassed quite a back catalogue of the Dark Knight’s 1980’s/90’s adventures starting with Batman #400 (1986) through to #520 (1996) and Detective Comics #500 (1981) through to #700 (1996) Mr. Breyfogle had a six-year run with Batman so his work features prominently throughout my collection, making him one of the key figures during my time in Gotham City.  I treasure those evenings spent reading Batman’s post Jason Todd early Tim Drake encounters illustrated by Breyfogle, written by Alan Grant. Not only did he illustrate countless stories featuring Batman’s classic rogue gallery but numerous other that have since become classics in their own right such as Anarky, Victor Zsasz, Cornelius Stirk, Amygdala and of course the Ventriloquist who quickly became a key player in Batman’s world (introduced during Grant and Breyfogle first collaboration together).

© Arfon Jones 2018. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

New Book: The Oakley Woods Murders

Remember last year when I told you that Mrs Jones had released a new book entitled, Strange Times in Little Happining? I had the honour of illustrating it for her, the book has been very well received by readers, so much so that she’s written another and yours truly got to illustrate that one as well! Inspector Mandalay and the eager Sergeant Barnes return to be baffled once again by a strange series of grizzly murders in Little Happining.  What is the link to Oakley Woods and is the murderer a man..or a monster? Find out by ordering your copy either via Amazon or the Mandalay Mysteries website.

On another note, Beth’s books made this week’s Cambrian News, in an article entitled; Beth’s cosy crime fiction offers an escape from life’s stresses. Beth Jones has written the second book in her Mandalay Mysteries series... A Nefyn author who says her inspiration for writing is a desire to entertain and amuse, has released another book. Beth Jones, 57, feels that escapism is very important in today’s  stressful world. That’s why she keeps her writing light-hearted and, to some extent timeless.  Beth said she felt that nobody was writing the sort of books she enjoys nowadays – So she decide to write her own. Her love of rural village life is the basis for her writing, and her settings are a mixture of the Kentish villages around where she grew up and the villages of the Llyn Peninsula where she has spent the last 30 years. Her books are aimed at anyone of any age who loves a good old fashioned murder mystery, and anyone who wants to escape for a while to a world with old fashioned values where strange things happen and policeman eat a lot of cake. Beth grew up in Beckenham, Kent and moved to North Wales in her late twenties. Her love of crime mysteries began at an early age, when she started the 'Famous Five Fan Club' at primary school, being an avid reader of the books. By the age of ten she was reading Sherlock Holmes and a few years later she discovered Agatha Christie and was hooked on the genre. TV detectives also have a place in her heart, from the 1970's Ellery Queen adaptations to Colombo, Murder She Wrote and on to Morse and Midsomer Murders, with many others in between. 
Beth's love of Science Fiction began at a similarly young age, sneaking into her brother's bedroom to borrow 'Starman Jones' and 'Beyond Tomorrow', as in those days Science Fiction books were strictly for boys, she recalls.  These classic 50's Sci Fi stories combined with TV such as Dr. Who and Star Trek firmly established the young Beth as a Sci Fi fan, however it was many years later that she discovered her greatest inspiration in the works of Douglas Adams, which fuelled her ambition to write comedy.

At school she was known for her story writing, her first 'book' being 'The Adventure Club' a short mystery which she wrote aged ten. She also sent some of her poems to Penguin books and received a very encouraging 'rejection' letter advising her to keep writing. It had always been her intention to write a book but this didn't happen until 2017 when she wrote and self-published the first Mandalay Mystery, 'Strange Times in Little Happining'. The Mandalay Mysteries were inspired by her love of the classic murder mystery, but she decided to give her stories a bit of a different slant, interweaving them with some of her other interests such as Science Fiction, the Paranormal and history, adding her love of comedy to the mix resulting in what she terms 'a light hearted cross-genre mystery'. The first  story concerns Inspector Mandalay, a peace loving police Inspector and the eager Sergeant Barnes as they investigate a series of inexplicable events as History seems to be coming to life in the usually uneventful town of Little Happining. The book was well received, with Starburst Magazine describing it as 'One of the most utterly charming reads we’ve come across in many a year.' Going on to say, 'As for Beth Jones, with her work here she marks herself as one to keep your eyes on, with her particularly adept at having a great eye for detail while also allowing for the plot and story to play out in a way that feels fresh, natural and, most importantly, engaging.' On the strength of this book, Beth was invited to be on a panel of writers at last year's Morecambe & Vice Crime Writing Festival, where she was able to share her passion for writing with other authors and Crime Fiction fans.
Beth has just finished writing her second Mandalay Mystery, 'The Oakley Woods Murders', in which Mandalay and Barnes investigate a series of grizzly murders which seem somehow to be linked to an ancient woodland and a mythical monster. Beth said she intends to write many more Mandalay Mysteries as she has grown very fond of the characters and has many other bizarre mysteries in mind for them.

So there you have it, either order your copy of 'The Oakley Woods Murders' on Amazon or direct via the Mandalay Mysteries website, tell her Arfon sent you!

UPDATE 1/11/2018: And as if that wasn’t enough to convince you to buy it she also received a 9 star review from Starburst Magazine adding, “With her two Mandalay Mysteries to date, author Beth Jones has crafted a world that is so simple but so wonderfully told that is has you eagerly turning page after page after page. Sure, there’s a great story at the centre of The Oakley Woods Murders, and there are certainly a few twists to this particular tale, but, as with Strange Times in Little Happining, it’s often the minute details that impress just as much as the greater narrative. When it comes to description and scene-setting, Jones is proving herself to be an absolute matter, with the quaint and warm Little Happining and its characters given depth rarely seen in such a swift and breezy read” and “We described the previous installment of Mandalay Mysteries as a hidden gem, and that is again the case here. For sheer storytelling, Beth Jones is marking herself out as a major talent just waiting to be discovered by a wider audience. In fact, her two adventures to date have a warm sheen to them that wouldn’t feel out of place told in a family-friendly daytime TV mystery. Part Midsomer Murders, part Scooby-Doo, all beautifully constructed in a wondrous anecdote that will instantly pull you back to a more innocent time when the little things mattered, delicate details were appreciated, and we were all a little less cynical and grumpy.

© Arfon Jones 2018. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.


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