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.

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