Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Monster Memories: Atmosfear (Nightmare)

I try (whenever possible) to create a nostalgic horror based painting in time for Halloween in the hope that it digs up some long long buried memories for you all out there. Having depicted Ghostwatch, Dr Walpurgis'Vault of Horror and more recently The Deadly Ernest Horror Show I thought this time I would move away from television and create a game based painting instead so I give you, Atmosfear!
The 1980’s and 1990’s was a tough time for board games, they suddenly found themselves competing against the highly lucrative video gaming market forcing them to devise new and exciting ideas to help sell their products, giving rise to the interactive video board game genre -games that incorporated your VHS player, giving us such games as Star Trek The Next Generation VCR board game, Dragon Strike, Hero Quest, Rap Rat and the most well known of them all Atmosfear! Atmosfear (actually called Nightmare but it was changed to Atmosfear in Europe to avoid confusion between an existing game) originated from Australia having been created by Phillip Tanner and Brett Clements of the production company A Couple 'A Cowboys and when the game was released in Australia in September 1991 it was an instant hit, selling one hundred thousand units in its first year alone (five times more than Trivial Pursuit). Backed by a heavy television and cinema marketing campaign and promotional Dance Parties the game broke all records for board games and by the mid 1990’s it was the most successful advanced board game in history and with the international acclaim it gained it became Australia’s biggest entertainment export since Crocodile Dundee!
The game itself was simple enough, which helped it’s success 3–6 players had to collect keys while trying to beat the clock however the real reason everyone played it was because of the Gatekeeper (played by Wenanty Nosul) who would appear at random intervals taunting, heckling and rewarding players as the game went on the player that collected all six keys and didn't draw their own fear card (each player was required to write their worse fears on card at the start of the game) won. As I said it was the Gatekeeper that made the game, always screaming at you, calling you a “little maggot” and demanding that you answer him each time with “Yes my Gatekeeper!” if you followed the games request to turn the lights down and the sound up and you obeyed the Gatekeeper the game was tremendous fun, and I look back on it fondly. Following on from the success of the first game three game expansions were released with each one containing a new tape featuring a new host, Baron Samedi the zombie hosted the second expansion in 1992 (again played by Wenanty Nosul) before actress Frederique Fouche played Anne de Chantraine the witch in 1993 returning as Elizabeth Bathory the vampire for the forth in 1994 sadly the Khufu the mummy expansion due for a 1995 release was cancelled due to declining sales however that wasn't the end of the Nightmare.

Halloween 2017
Armed with feedback received from players of the original game A Couple 'A Cowboys struck a deal with J. W. Spear & Sons to develop the new game and released the Harbingers game a major update of the series and within a few months of its release it become one of the top ten best selling games in the United States and the United Kingdom. It was soon followed by two more booster tapes and an add-on game called The Soul Rangers. Then after nine years of development A Couple 'A Cowboys and Flying Bark Productions released Atmosfear the Gatekeeper in 2004. Now on DVD instead of a VHS this medium offered random programming assuring new game each time and six months after its resale the game was once again a hit selling 60,000 copies then with its international success in over 18 different countries it grew to 600,000 with worldwide sales and then in 2006 eleven years after its cancellation Khufu the mummy finally had his own game with Atmosfear Khufu the Mummy. I must confess that I hadn’t realized that the series had returned and so when my stepson asked me if I had played Atmosfear we were talking about two completely different games! I thought it had a lot of promise but as impressive as the prosthetics were on the Gatekeeper it didn't really appeal to me, my heart belonged to the original. He may well have been a Gatekeeper but he wasn’t, “My Gatekeeper!”
This painting done in acyclic and pen features the Atmosfear board and pieces with the Gatekeeper leering overhead (complete with poor VHS tracking) to the side we see the other hosts Baron Samedi, Anne de Chantraine and Elizabeth Bathory while a little maggot who's turn it is throws the die- to discover his fate! Hope this painting brought it all back for you! Comment below if you ever played it!

This leads me rather neatly to a bit of news, I would like to announce that I have a book in the works! Arfon’s Monster Memories will be a personal trip down memory lane as told through my paintings (like the one featured in this post) recounting growing up as a monster fan during the Eerie Eighties and Nightmarish Nighties! Penned for 2018 I hope that the book will be a feast for the eyes and brain- Follow this site or the Facebook page for further updates or e-mail me direct at arfon@arfon.net to be kept in the loop!
Happy Halloween!

© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

A Monster Memories Halloween Special: Were Bears

Happy Halloween kiddies! It’s time for a Halloween edition of Monster Memories… Last year a new toy line was introduced called Feisty Pets, seemingly innocent soft toys that turn ferocious when the back of their heads are squeezed. A video demonstrating 'Feisty Pets' went viral receiving 20 million views, 350,000 shares and 50,000 comments in just 3 days making the toy a massive hit. Although I admire the mechanics used to achieve the result and want one for myself the idea of a transforming monstrous teddy bear is not an original one, in fact it was done back in 1990 and they were called Were Bears!

My Were Bears collection before and after
Were Bears were cute plush teddy bears (named Grizzler, Howler, Gums and Fang) that measured eleven inches in height and were originally devised back in 1983 by artist George Nicholas creator of Scouse Mouse and holder of the 1985 world record for the worlds longest mural at Alder Hey Hospital. Being the 1980’s there were masses of plush toys produced but there weren't many for boys and so always thinking outside the box George joined forces with Scalextric and model train supremo's Hornby in to create a plush toy aimed at boys. Released in the UK (the concept was later sub-licensed to an American Toy brand that called them Beasty Bears) the teddy bears would ‘transform’ into a fierce looking bears or as the 1990 Argos Autumn/ Winter catalogue explained, “these ‘teddies’ change into ‘Were Bears’ by reversing the head and paws”. Each bear was sold separately and came with a story cassette narrated by Oliver Postgate telling the origin of the Were Bears. How one day in the tiny village of München-Lüncheon in the ancient Castle Casserole a toy maker called Barron Egon BaconBurger was making cuddly toys for all the poor children during a full moon when he suddenly turned into a werewolf that resulted in the teddies adopting his transforming qualities! The toys sold well and small, six inch non transforming variants were later produced along with four rival (non transforming) bears known as ‘Terror Teds’ (called Chomp, Snapper, Grunt and Munch) before a fifth Were Bear was introduced to the line up called Growler who would do just that when the badge on his chest was pressed.

Were Bears #1 November 1990
I first became aware of this line through the television adverts and Clearmark Productions/London Editions Magazines comic series which ran 7 issues. Produced by George Nicholas, Nick Reynolds, Nigel Parkinson and Julie Evans the first issue (released in November 1990) came with a free set of “Fear-some Fangs” and a chance to win a Were Bear of my very own and it retold the above origin story in comic book form. Other issues dealt with the origin of the TerrorTeds (created by the evil Witch Hazel) and their ongoing feud with the Were Bears. Now, a confession… As an 80’s kid naturally I adored He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Transformers, Gremlins, The A-Team, Garbage Pail Kids, Ghostbusters- all that good stuff and relished all the gross toys and action figures available during the 80’s they without a doubt spurred on my fascination with monsters but…. I was also into Care Bears…. Yeah, I know! What can I say? I seemed to also be attracted to the soft and cuddly side of the 1980’s. Care Bears, Get Along Gang, Smurfs, Wuzzles, Muppet Babies, Paw Paw Bears and Acorn Green I loved them all and was always after the merchandise which consisted (mostly) of plush toys only to be told, “boys don't play with those sort of toys” however I refused to listen digging my heels in standing up to this supposed ‘rule’ (ever the rebel!) as I got older this fondness for plush toys become ever tricky and by the time the Were Bears were released I was 11 and wanting plush toys made my parents wince but the idea of a cute bear that turned into the monster ticked all the right boxes for me and I had to have them. I never got Growler though, as much as I liked the howling effect I didn’t care for him so much because he stood up and so didn’t match the other bears!
An original George Nicholas!
So what became of the line? Having ceased production by the mid 1990’s a small batch of limited edition bears were produced in 2012, retaining their transforming capabilities however these bears’ eyes would light up and they would let out a scary howl when their paws were pressed! Gums was dropped from the line and replaced by Growler looking more like his fellow Were Bears and so he was added to my line-up!
Although the bears are no longer produced the brand lives on, having been re-launched on the 31st of October 2016 they now sell retro themed Were Bear merchandise on their website for fans such as myself! So before you follow the current trends check out the Were Bears, and remember as the television advert used to tell us, “Were Bears come as a great surprise, some people can’t believe their eyes! Think of scary things to do, who’s going to know it was you? Nothing can scare like a wicked were bear!”
Did you have one? Share your memories in the comments section!
Happy Halloween!

This article is respectfully dedicated to George Nicholas
© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

My Wind in the Willows Wall Paper (1985)

What's it been? 3 minutes since my last nostalgic ramble? ...Well blame Kid for this one, he requested it!
Right, back in 1985 when I was aged 6 we moved into our brand new house and I was allowed to pick my own wallpaper (a big responsibility!)! My Buck Rogers in the 25th century wallpaper was but a distant memory as I carefully perused through the pages of the children's wallpaper sample book mulling over what was to be the theme of my brand new room, It was a serious decision and I eventually settled on this gorgeous Wind in the Willows design (sorry about the camera glare). Produced by Cosgrove Hall in conjunction with their animated adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s classic story. Ok, it didn’t go with my He-Man and the Master of the Universe bed spread or The A-Team curtains that I had but I loved it all the same, its glorious details meant there was always something new to find during the five years it adorned the wall. That was until the addition of a baby sister resulted in the bedrooms being switched around. My brother and I were relocated into the larger room so the Wind in the Willows paper was replaced as my old room became my parents bedroom. My request to have a section of it saved went unheard and I (frustratingly) had no memento of that wall paper. That is until last year when my parents clearing out the cupboard under the stairs found (to my utter delight) various rolled up lengths and off cuts left over from 1985! I was so pleased that I now have it hanging in a 7x6 frame in the studio, aside from it reminding me of my childhood its also a glorious piece of art that in my mind and deserves to be hung up! Did anyone else out there have this on their bedroom wall? Drop me a line in the comments section and let me know if you did!

© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Happy 25th Anniversary Ghostwatch!

Our beloved Ghostwatch celebrates its 25th anniversary this Halloween and we were all set to mark this milestone however... Well, I will let Ghostwatch creator/ writer Stephen Volk explain, Well, folks, I was all geared up to appear on The One Show to talk about the 25th Anniversary of GHOSTWATCH's transmission on BBC1 on Halloween 1992. But guess what? It's trickled up to BBC Ed Poll (Editorial Policy) and they've canned the item due to sensitivities it might cause offence. Sort of ironic we should be banned by the Beeb 25 years on. The ghost is truly in the machine. "Maybe your poltergeist, eh, Dr Pascoe?" So there you have it, I don’t care what the BBC thinks! Happy 25th Birthday Ghostwatch! Long may it continue to cause offence...

© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

My artwork spotted at the Two Rivers pub, Chepstow!

It’s a great feeling to know that your artwork is up on someone’s wall, more so if its a public place where it can be seen by many, but imagine my surprise when my friend Andy sent me this photo last night taken at the Two Rivers pub by Chepstow!
I created this map (top) for the Waltz on the Wye Steampunk event website back in 2011 highlighting how easy it was to get to Chepstow from London, long forgotten I had no idea it was framed and on display!
Incidentally this map also highlights just how easy it is to get to this year’s Chepstow Steampunk Winter Festival which is on the 25th of November. Sadly I can’t make it but I hope to attend the next event and I think I’ll visit the Two Rivers pub as well, I understand its very nice and they have great art on the wall!

© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

I’m Back! An experience with Arnold Schwarzenegger

I told you I’d be back! So where have I been? Well, the studio mostly, completing various projects but I also (as the title and photo would suggest) met this gentleman, Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger….
But first (as is often the case with me) a back story… Back in 2009 while checking my e-mails I was surprised to read, “Arnold Schwarzenegger is now following you on Twitter” I was aghast for all of 3 seconds! “THE Arnold Schwarzenegger?” I asked. Had he (for some reason) singled me out and decided to follow me on Twitter? Of course not, it was just a PR thing during his time as Governor of California, most likely off the back of those California Tourism TV ad campaigns shown in the UK that he starred in asking, “when can you start?” But for those 3 short seconds I was reminded of much I adored the guy and how there once was a time in my life when he was the only ‘current’ Hollywood actor who’s work I would go see on its initial release (an accolade perhaps only shared with Jim Carrey). As memories of care free evenings watching his movies with my brother and quoting his one liners with friends in art college came back to me I thought how amazing it would be to meet him someday, well that ‘someday' was to be the 21st of September 2017 at the Hilton Metropole in Birmingham.

Event organisers An Experience With were bringing Schwarzenegger to the UK for a special black tie dinner experience celebrating the 30th anniversary of one of my all time favourite movie aliens, Predator! I remember catching it on TV one Saturday night expecting to be as entertaining as Commando (that we had watched the night before) and it was, but more so as this one had an alien in it, one with no interest in invading the planet- this one simply wanted to hunt humans for sport! I was hooked, I watched it and its equally great sequel over and over, read the comics and would draw the Predator throughout my teenage years so this event would not only present me the opportunity to meet Mr. Schwarzenegger but also raise a glass to one of my favourite aliens, this was too perfect to miss! Dressed up in our finest (Mrs Jones especially!) we arrived at the Hilton for what would be our second black tie event celebrating an alien! We made our way into a ball room which was surrounded by Arnie related replicas and props from such Terminator, T2, Conan the Barbarian and of course, Predator some of which were to be auctioned off later that evening. There was even a Predator on hand posing for photos, which I did (taking my first selfie on my new phone).

We took our seats and sipped our complimentary drinks while being entertained by top swing vocalist Robby Darin and the State 51 Swing Orchestra and they were superb, somehow managing a rare thing, playing all my favourite songs. They continued to entertain while we started on our “high-quality 3-course dinner” which starting (appropriately enough) with a starter, comprising of Parma ham with grilled peach, rocket leaves, parmesan flakes and black olive dressing followed by the main course of braised feather blade of beef with spring onion, crushed new potatoes, baton vegetables, broccoli and pan jus finished off with dessert strawberry cheesecake with fruit coulis garnished with seasonal fruits and crème chantilly and it was as delicious as it sounds. After coffee, the prize draw and auction an on screen run-through of Schwarzenegger’s incredible career and accomplishments was played before a countdown commenced introducing Arnie to the stage where he was met by a massive round of applause! When he did, it was an amazing experience, seeing the man himself in person! Just in case there were any doubts that it really was him he walked up to the end of the stage and yelled, “Get to da choppa!” which was met with an even louder cheers as he took his seat for an hour-long chat with interviewer Charlie Webster. Clearly in awe of him she asked about his amazing life, becoming the youngest person to win the Mr Universe title, winning it seven times in total, his career in Hollywood along with the making of Predator. His friendship with Danny DeVitto and his one time rivalry with Sylvester Stallone during the 1980s they would try to out do one and other, such as who had the least body fat, who was the most ripped, who had the biggest guns and killed the most people on screen and of course who made the most at the box office. It seemed at one time he tried to have more muscles than Arnie to which he quipped “Well, I say, good luck!” He also revealed Sly’s artistic side, discussing his paintings not to mention delivering a hilarious Stallone impersonation! The conversation then turned to politics and his becoming the 38th Governor of California and his pride in it being one of the largest economies in the world and No 1 in the US for clean air and water addressing another subject close to his heart the environment he raised concerns of how worldwide, seven million people are dying every year because of pollution. The hour seemed to fly by and it was time to wrap up but not until he was presented with a replica of the machete used in Predator to cut a giant 30th anniversary cake made by AB Cakes before going through to another room to meet and greet fans I followed on shortly after to meet him myself for a quick handshake and photo, before going back to my table to discuss how amazing he was with other table guests whom he had also inspired in some way over the years. We had an amazing time, many thanks to all involved especially Mr Schwarzenegger himself.

© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Find me on Idol Features!

Yours truly's ramblings are now no longer confined to these pages! Some of my articles will live on in Idol Features, a site founded by Chris Charles containing a plethora of interviews with ladies in the entertainment industry. The site was originally created back in 2007 by Chris as an unnamed storage site for articles he’d written for other sites but it now lives on as a hub of information about women in entertainment and since 2011 it has been updated with content exclusively for the site and I am delighted to be added to the fold as an 'Occasional Contributor' follow this link to find out more.

Art wise I have a great many projects and commissions on the go, taking up most of my time, but fear not... I’ll be back!

© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Codename: Diablo! Premiere

 I've been out and about again, this time to Brighton with Hellbound Media's Matt Warner to attend the movie premiere of Codename: Diablo! A 'Girls with Guns' action comedy movie by Dre-YS dubbed the Russ Meyer of the 21st century! Being a fan of Russ Myer, Ted V Mikels Andy Sidaris I was intrigued by Dre's work and I had the pleasure of meeting him at the exclusive screening. As a child Dre loved to play secret agents, inspired by spy spoofs from the 60s and 70s such as Matt Helm, James Bond, Man From Uncle, The Avengers, James Coburn as Flint movies and Honey West. He loved the wacky/ tongue in cheek silliness of them all and and soon got into the Eurospy genre from the 60s such as so Dick Smart 2.007, Cazadores de espias, Con licence para matar and Mexican director Rafael Balendon's catalogue. One aspect of these movies that appealed greatly to him was that staple of the genre the 'Femme Fatale'! Women that used their sexiness to achieve their objective and complete their mission! Temptress of a thousand Faces a 1969 Chinese spy film is a particular favourite of his. When asked to name his favourite 'Femme Fatale' he listed Margaret Lee, Maura Monti and Elizabeth Campbell whom appeared in the before mentioned Eurospy films and Lily Ho who made a series of 60s spy films as Agent 009 in China. During the 80s he started getting into Russ Meyer when bunking off university lectures to go to the Scala in London when they would run three Russ Meyer films in a row once or twice a month, delighting in their ridiculous plots and other things... Ann Marie, Alaina Capri and of course Tura Satana! Armed with these influences he decided to try something that had not been done before and mixed action comedy spy spoofs with ridiculously huge boobed girl secret agents for Operation Havoc in 2009 casting Sheyla Hershey it was internationally well received and was then followed by The Blonde Squad in 2014 and now he's back with the subject of this post, Codename: Diablo!

 The movie starred Mary Madison Love, Lilly 4K and Martina Big starring as a trio of female secret agents hired  to stop an ultra sadistic villainess from taking over the world with the deadly Diablo Gun! During its production the film promised to be “'Buxotic' in every sense of the word, stating, "Codename Diablo! sets the bar for both independent film and the Action Comedy genre alike. Totally in a unique niche of it’s own, it's not many films that can claim to have invented their own genre.”  I had a great time at the premiere and I had the pleasure of meeting the film's stars Mary Madison Love and Lilly 4K along with Dolly Fox the latest recruit to O.M.E.G.A who will feature in the up and coming sequel! As for the movie, well this is a spoiler free zone so I shan't give away anything with regards to the story, but I enjoyed it. Offering some fun escapism, Dre provides a Russ Meyer/ Andy Sidaris tribute platter with a dash of Charlie’s Angels and a sprinkling of 1960's spy movies on top! If I had to compare it to anything I would say it was a cross between Ted V Mikels's Doll Squad  and Chesty Morgan's Double Agent 73/ Deadly Weapons movies.
if this sounds like the kind of movie you might enjoy then follow this link to watch the trailer, find out more- be sure tell them Arfon sent you!
The movie will be released on DVD in August followed by streaming and Download in early September.
 © Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

The Fourth Wedding Anniversary of Mr & Mrs Arfon Jones

It's June, it's that time again, time to report back about the day we celebrated the day we got married. For the benefit of those keeping count (and don't read titles) this was the fourth. This time Mrs Jones and I spent it in the Land of the Lions in.... London! London zoo to be exact, at the world’s oldest scientific zoo's newest exhibit that not only (decoratively) transports visitors to India’s vibrant Sasan Gir to get a little bit closer to the majestic, mighty Asiatic lions but also the chance to sleep “within roaring distance” of them!

Having long been fascinated with animals and watching copious amounts of television in my lifetime London Zoo is very familiar to me but to be perfectly honest I had never actually visited before. So finally, after 30+ years I finally had the chance to visit Jumbo the elephant's old stomping ground! We spent a hot day navigating through parties of school children seeing the wonderful array of animals the zoo has on offer. Being the nerd that I am I would stop at familiar points of interest such as the Reptile House, the Raven’s Cage (constructed in 1829), the grade two listed Penguin Pool and of course the Snowdon Aviary,
designed by and named after Lord Snowdon built in 1962 and opened to the public in 1965 it was the second largest aviary in the world but the first walk-through aviary in Britain, specially designed to allow close up views of birds. One of the things I enjoyed about the Zoo (apart from the animals of course) was the balance the zoo had between introducing new and fresh ideas and their own history. We saw Giant Galapagos Tortoises, Penguins and Lemurs but unfortunately the anteaters had been relocated to behind the giraffe house to make way for a new dinosaur attraction (leaving me with mixed emotions as I love anteaters and fibreglass dinosaurs...) and then after “oooh-ing" and "aaaaahhh-ing" over Marilyn the two-toed sloth's uncharacteristic 'speedy' constitutional around their jungle environment and the extremely photogenic otter family over at the Otter Holt we made our way to the Gir Lion Lodge to 'check-in'.

Officially opened by HM The Queen and HRH The Duke on the 17th March 2016 (the original lion terraces was also opened by them both in 1976) Land of the Lions cost £5.2m to build and is five times the size of the previous lion enclosure and as previously mentioned designed to resemble Sasan Gir, an Indian village in the heart of the Gir Forest where the last 500 wild Asiatic lions live and the attention to detail is amazing as it both entertains and highlights ZSL’s international conservation efforts to help protect this endangered species. We arrived at the nine brightly painted lodges inspired by the hotels in the Gir Forest and were greeted by the friendly keepers. We were given the Oriole Lodge equipped with en-suite toilet, basin and shower and tea making facilities and a rather nice private veranda to soak up the atmosphere and relax. But this excursion was not just about finding a place to spend the night in London! Once we had settled in, glass of complimentary Prosecco in hand we were given an exclusive after-hours tours of the Zoo offering a glimpse of what it's like at the zoo once the public have left by the friendly, knowledgeable keepers. We met Bhanu and lionesses Indi, Rubi and Heidi learning more about them, their conservation and their upkeep. Interestingly as part of the lions enrichment, sacks soaked in unwanted perfume are given to the lions with Old Spice being a particular favourite (a little discouraging as its also my favourite brand of aftershave and I was wearing it at the time...). We then made our way around the zoo and some of the enclosures and even had chance to feed Thug and Nicky the pygmy hippos before having our own delicious two-course dinner. Once we had finished our puddings we toasted our anniversary (and the birthday of another guest) we had another 'mooch' around meeting two of the zoo's nocturnal residents which I will not tell you about because its meant to be a secret... but they were delightful!

The next morning was fantastic! I normally associate the bustling sounds of cars, sirens and Ring Necked Parakeets with waking up in London so being woken to the sound of macaws, flamingos and lions was a new one on me! I had a quiet sit down on the 'private veranda' before we went to have our Full English breakfast before visiting the old elephant house to see where all the herbaceous animal's meals are prepared. Some Tapirs and gibbons followed before we went back to “oooh" and "aaaaahhh" some more at the two-toed sloth's and otters (not me you understand, but Mrs Jones, although I did make a similar sound when we briefly saw the giant anteaters roaming their enclosure before a fresh party of school children mobbed to the fence) and that was our sunset, after-dark and early morning excursion to London zoo that I highly recommend, as always I hope this was of interest!

© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Mischievous Memories: Jeremy Beadle

On the 14th of June I found myself wandering around Highgate Cemetery East in London looking for the grave of the most famous prankster in Britain, Jeremy Beadle MBE. 
This was somewhat of a pilgrimage for me, as I explained previously in my first Mischievous Memories I have always been fascinated by practical jokes and for two decades, Jeremy Beadle was known as television's arch prankster and so as a result I looked at him as the quintessential practical joker. Although a little two young to remember Game for a Laugh! I fondly remember Beadle's About, I was an avid viewer and it was an essential part of Saturday nights for me. Each week he played tricks on unsuspecting members of the public in the same vain as Candid Camera (although he disliked the comparison) and then praising them for being a great sport, the show was a massive success. It was the longest continually running hidden-camera show of its kind and ran for eleven series, selling all over the world and at its peak pulled in viewing figures of seventeen million. He stated in his 1998 autobiography, Watch Out!Very few people have made a full-time career out of something as silly as practical joking and to be recognised as the country's Number One in that field was something I took as a great accolade. 'Game For A Laugh' had been my apprenticeship and had established me in the role. 'Beadle's About' marked my coronation! I was now the King of Practical Jokes, The Prince of Pranksters.” The programme received around 30,000 letters a year from members of the public nominating family and friends to be the next show's 'punter' (he never called them 'victims' “we were going to make these people stars, so we called them 'punters'”).

Although those practical jokes were amazingly elaborate Beadle delighted in the simple pranks as well and with his place as the nation's number one practical joker assured, he released the Jeremy Beadle's box of Practical Jokes through Merit Toys and MCP games in 1989 which offered any budding prankster “Classic practical Jokes plus the secrets of over 150 of Jeremy Beadle's rib-tickling favourites” Beadle once promoted this potential box of delights on Children's ITV and I recall asking for it for Christmas! Amongst the hand buzzer, squirting calculator, plate lifter, whoopee cushion, wobbly pencil, bottle of disappearing ink and fake injured finger was the Jeremy Beadle's Book of Practical Jokes which not only informs us how to use our arsenal but also offers a few other gags to try out after running through some 'rules' when practical joking such as, “A practical joke is only funny if the person you play the joke on actually laughs” and “A good practical joker will only play tricks on those people they know will enjoy the gag once it has been revealed”. He makes it quite clear that when pulling a “messy joke” we must be on hand with a cloth or brush to clean up the mess and that we must always praise the “star” for being a good sport before telling us to have fun! (I will also add that Beadle was also keen on magic and also released the Jeremy Beadle Box of Magic Tricks that same year offering 28 magic tricks and the secrets of 95 of his “magical favourites”!).

Beadle took his trade to another level in 1991 and joined forces with the subject of the last Mischievous Memories Joke Shop by Post, I recall the above advert in their catalogue, “Watch TV's Jeremy Beadle try Our Jokes” this video was called Jeremy Beadles guide to Practical Joking and was almost like a self help video (which I have uploaded to my YouTube channel) calling itself “the ultimate guide for the beginner prankster who plans on becoming an expert practical joker” it offered tips for kids to try out on unsuspecting 'punters'. ”Beadle will teach you how to shock your family, surprise your friends and make everyone scream for more with over 200 easy to learn practical jokes using mostly everyday household items.” Co written, produced and directed by TV producer Clive Doig (whom Beadle had worked with numerous times over the years once creating a program in 1980 for Children's BBC called April Fool)

Sadly, he did receive some flack over the years, the most famous prankster in Britain was also nominated as the second most hated man in Britain in a poll by Punch Magazine (behind Saddam Hussein, but as Beadle pointed out it was a list of only 5 people) but this never really bothered him, nor me for that matter having always been one of a small demographic that likes such entertainers/ presenters as Beadle, Paul Daniels, Roland Rat and Noel Edmunds. In his book he reflected on his time as a joker on television, “After eleven years of Beadle's About and Five years of Game For A Laugh, for sixteen years, I have been synonymous with practical joking. For sixteen years I was considered the best. Even if I was to live to be a hundred, I still think that, in my obituary, I will recognised as one of the greatest practical jokers TV has known. I am quite proud of that. I will continue to work with practical jokes. It may be that I won't actually be on camera but I'll never lose the ability to deliver them. Lets just say my crown is tucked away in a little box, waiting to be taken out and dusted off at some future date.” Sadly he didn't live to be a hundred, he died on the 30th of January 2008, aged only 59 of pneumonia he was right about the obituaries though, they refer to him as “TV Trickster” "King of Pranks" and “Presenter and Prankster” before listing his other talents and accomplishments. I found the grave a rather beautifully carved headstone reflecting his love of books, although a little weathered it reads, “Jeremy Beadle MBE Writer, Presenter curator of curiosities “Ask my Friends” “ a rather poignant memorial to a great man

A little more Beadle for your Buck!
This is a little curio from my collection...  Beadle was also synonymous with “camcorder calamities” having presented You've Been Framed! The show featuring humorous clips from viewers' home videos from 1990 to 1997. Viewers would win £250 if their video was used in the show, this is a VHS that we submitted back in circa. 1991 we didn't win anything but the sticker stating that it had been submitted remains on it to this day. Off the back of You've Been Framed! Beadle presented another 'how-to' video, Have Fun With Your Camcorder produced for Comet stores in association with Panasonic, JVC, Canon, Hitachi, Ferguson, Sanyo and Sharp at the height of the camcorder craze of the 1990's. The video promised help from “Top Television and Film experts, Jeremy shows you the 'tricks of the trade' so you can have fun with your camcorder” this video has also been uploaded to my YouTube channel.

© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Monday, 12 June 2017

RIP Adam West/Batman 1928-2017

The world is going to hell and the government is in disarray and to make matters worse Batman is dead.
Adam West, Bruce Wayne, Batman, The Caped Crusader, the man that the Gotham underworld tried to unsuccessfully kill each week died peacefully on the 9th of June at his home in Los Angeles after a brief battle with leukaemia, he was 88.
The death of someone that you have known throughout your life but never actually met is a strange feeling to comprehend. As a long time Bat-Fan I grew up with Adam West, he was always on TV and his adventures not only provided me my much needed Bat-Fix but also my much needed escapism during the 'joys' of childhood.
Mr. West's passing is both a sad and bitter experience for me because I was all set to actually meet him in person at next month's London Film & Comic Con for what was to be his last UK appearance, a thank you to all his European fans. Frankly, personally, I feel cheated, the opportunity to meet my hero, shake his hand and thank him for being there all these years has been snatched away from me. I wouldn't have told him anything that he hadn't heard a thousand times before but I wanted him to hear it again and from me, I will instead raise a glass of milk in his honour when I watch his show... same Bat-time, same-Bat-channel...

© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Antony & Cleopatra Poster

Following on from last year's successful production of 'The Tempest' at the Morecambe WinterGardens (for which I provided the poster) Attic Door Productions are back for another year and another re imagining of the bard's work, this time it will be Anthony & Cleopatra and I was delighted to be the one responsible for the poster! “The opulence of Egypt and the power struggles of Rome are transported into the faded decadence of forties film noir with Attic Door’s brand new production of Shakespeare’s tale of Lust and Power : Antony & Cleopatra.” Direct from their acclaimed run of The Two Gentlemen of Verona at Lancaster Castle the Attic Door team once again bring a new accessible angle to Shakespeare’s work, bringing the Winter Gardens to life as the magnificent palaces of Egypt and the seedy warehouses of Rome in this exciting new site specific production! So don't miss it! The Winter Gardens, Thursday 20th, Friday 21st & Saturday 22nd July at 7.30pm! Here is a handy link for you so you can book your tickets right away!

© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Dine out before they die out: Wimpy, Rotherham

Wimpy, Rotherham Superbowl, Wortley Road, Kimberworth, Rotherham, S61 1QN. With Little Chef's demise now official I've made it my mission to visit as many of them as possible and in doing so I have neglected the Wimpy Bars somewhat, let's set that right. Located within the Rotherham Superbowl (“It's not just bowling - It's Superbowling!”) I wasn't able to determine exactly how long they have been open but according to one member of staff it had been open for some time and its rather a nice one. It offers the classic Wimpy experience but with the added extra of arcade games, fruit machines and an all night Bowling alley! Serving 10am until late the menu doesn't have all of your Wimpy favourites on it (The Bender and Brown Derby were decidedly absent) however to give them their due the food is of a high quality and served by friendly staff.

Previous Wimpy Sites:
Streatham Wimpy.

Previous Little Chef Sites:
LittleChef Northop Hall.
Little Chef, Wrexham.
Little Chef,Bangor.
Little Chef Dolgellau.
Little Chef Builth Wells.

Little Chef Uttoxeter.
Little Chef Shrewsbury

© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Monster Memories: Tommy Boyd: Monster Hunter?

Here is a clipping from Look-In magazine dated the 2nd of May 1992 that states that there was a new book out called Monster Monsters which sets out to educate its readers about, “the weird and wonderful monsters that are supposed to have existed around the world” written by then current face of Children's ITV Tommy Boyd and the article declared that Tommy was “actually a bit of a monster-mad boffin!”. The book, published by Boxtree was published as I immersed myself fully in my fascination with monsters, I was equally a fan of Tommy Boyd who was a regular face throughout my childhood be it from his days presenting Saturday TV-am show Wide Awake Club from 1986–1990 (and Sunday spin-off show WAC Extra) to the time he presented Children's ITV from 1991 to 1992. The book's back cover reads, “Calling... monster trackers everywhere. You come across strange giant footprints leading into a dark, clammy cave. Would you... faint with fright... quietly tiptoe away...or explore further? Tommy Boyd has collected fearsome facts and monstrous myths which will freeze the blood in your veins! Read about the huge body with a serpent's neck which emerged from the dark waters of Loch Ness, or a tentacle half the length of a football pitch which was found on a Florida beach and ask yourself: What is out there?” packed with stories, games, quizzes, trivia, things to do and monsters to make and priced £2.99 it was a terrific read to any budding monster hunter! This wasn't actually the first time Tommy put his name to a monster themed book, the Wide Awake Club released a book entitled Ghosts, Monsters and Legends in a 1986 tie-in with their segment on the show of the same name (although how much Tommy was involved in the writing process is unclear) what is especially interesting in this article however is the closing paragraph, “ By the way, did you know that Tommy's planning an expedition of his own to go off and find the Giant Buru Buru monster* (which you can read all about in the book) very soon and he wants volunteers! Watch out for more news soon.” Did this expedition ever happen? Even in the book he gives map references! Attempts to contact Mr Boyd directly have yielded no results, so does anyone out there know?

* Buru Buru Monster: an aquatic cryptid reptile said to inhabit the Ziro valley, India.

© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world. 

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

HorrorCon 2017: Some Highlights

I've already mentioned my trip to Rotherham to meet Elvira Mistress of the Dark but I thought I should really recount my first HorrorCon and how great an experience it was and how I am looking forward to the next! So here are my (in no particular order) highlights from HorrorCon 2017.

1) Meeting Elvira herself!
Cassandra Peterson the woman responsible for Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, I was finally able to meet her in person! I had an Elvira portrait for sale at the event but I also painted a second portrait of Cassandra Peterson herself and presented it to her as a gift. She seemed genuinely touched by it and insisted that I take a photo of her with it. Here it is! What an incredibly nice lady she is!

2) Chocolate Krites eggs and Krite!
I love the Critters movies and so I simply had to have a chocolate Critter eggs with chocolate Critter inside! Available from Janine on the JanineMakes Cakes stall, check out her site for more amazing examples Sinister Cakes!

3) Elvira Cosplayer
Elviras? Elvirēs? a great many walked around the convention supporting Elvira t-shirts but these lovely ladies decided to go the whole hog and dress up as the mistress of the dark, very nice they were too. If I haven't credited you please drop me a line so I can rectify that!

Peachy Poison as Elvira
4) Hatters Top Tables
I had the pleasure of being seated next to Hatters Top Tables'... table. Purveyors of hand crafted bespoke items and props for “all theme parties or film nights” offering all manner of cool stuff for any event. It was impossible to not stop and admire their wares! Follow the link and agree with me, tell them Arfon sent you!     

5) Claire Rainbow as Lilly Munster
Met Claire at the event dressed as my favourite TV mom! I've already mentioned in a previous post how much I adore the Munsters, she looked fabulous! Oh how I wish I brought my electric chair with me!

6) The Monster Charity Project
I was able to catch up with my good friend Rob Taylor at the Monster Charity Project who was one of the 28 top UK SPFX Artists responsible for creating 28 Bespoke, re-imagined, customised Frankenstein Monster Busts to be auctioned for Make A Wish UK. Had a nice wander round, the work and level of detail was amazing, check out their Facebook page marvel at their work and show your support!


7) Ash Williams and Velma Dinkley
I love Bruce Campbell and I love Scooby and these wonderful people highlighted how cool an Evil Dead/ Scooby-Doo mash up would be!

8) Hellbound Media's table and everyone that came up to chat and buy stuff! I had a terrific time at the Hellbound Media table and thank head honchos Mark Adams and Matt Warner  for letting me tag along for the weekend. Thanks to everyone that came over to say hello, buy comics and my prints. I doff my hat to all involved in the organising of the event and I look forward to seeing you all at the next one!

StevenMonkey Mason came over to the Hellbound Media table and documented it on his YouTube channel. He gives me a mention and gags on my business card vampire teeth about 17 minutes in!

© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.


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