Friday 31 May 2013

Reflections of a Doctor Who fan: The grumpy one…

With Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy
It seems to me that a while a great many of us are celebrating Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary this year others are simply preparing for Doctor Who’s 10th anniversary in 2015… It’s official, the world loves the programme and as happy as I am to see the world finally ‘getting’ Doctor Who there is a small part of me that gets somewhat ‘disgruntled’ shall we say? At some of the programme’s newest fans that proceeded tell me how great it is… “YES I KNOW ITS GREAT! I told you! Remember?! The guy walking around with a Doctor Who scarf before the series returned in 2005!” (Deep breath) Please don’t misunderstand me, I am pleased to see people enjoying Doctor Who, my only objection is when I see people (more often selling something) trying to pass themselves off as Doctor Who fans when in reality they have only actually watched ‘portions’ of the new series.  I can confidently declare my self-a fan and assert my devotion to this programme by proudly telling you that I was born the very same day that part four of ‘The Power of Kroll’ aired and add that I live 32.9miles from the Death Zone… There is one slight problem with complaining about new fans however, I suppose it does makes me somewhat a hypocrite, because Doctor Who was into its second decade by the time I discovered it… In fact in the days before the new series aired and the first 26 year run was summed up under the guise of ‘classic’ Doctor Who the era of the show that I held dear was very often sneered upon by other fans… When ever I am asked “who’s’ your favourite/ who was your Doctor?” my answer is always “Colin Baker was my first Doctor However, Sylvester McCoy is MY Doctor… Naturally I love Tom Baker’s Doctor but William Hartnell is THE Doctor..” then I will list the others in order of preference…  So as you can see I came in during the Colin Baker/ Sylvester McCoy years. The tail end of the series if you will.

For the past 10 years I have been a member of the Doctor Who collectors site Richard Who and on my profile I mentioned that I had an interest in Doctor Who since finding my first Doctor Who comic in a Golden Wonder multi pack. This is absolutely true, Tom Baker had left the role that made him famous when I was only two years of age, I was aware of Peter Davison being the Doctor but (through Blue Peter and various BBC links) being the only science fiction fan in the family I never saw the programme.  It would take a free comic from a Golden Wonder multi pack to prick my interest in Doctor Who and so I watched it.  By this time the Doctor was in his 6th guise and played by Colin Baker, I only ever saw one of his stories on their original airing and that was the concluding part of ‘Attack of the Cybermen’. The showdown against the Cybermen was firmly etched into my memory I absolutely loved it! But then something happened the show seemed to just disappear! Being only six at the time and with no concept of TV schedule changes I was blissfully unaware that I was missing the Doctor’s exploits as I enjoyed the A-Team on ITV!  For a short time Doctor Who disappeared off the radar for me, that was until 1987 when the 7th Doctor was introduced.
As I previously mentioned Colin Baker was indeed my first Doctor but Sylvester McCoy was MY Doctor and his tenure was when I became a fully-fledged Doctor Who fan. I read the comic strips in Marvel Bumper Comic, fought Daleks and Cybermen in the school field and I had a crush on Ace… But more importantly I watched the programme as they went out (apart from the occasions when my mother watched Coronation Street on ITV) I have very fond memories of returning home from Cubs and watching the 7th Doctor and Ace battling Daleks, Cybermen and Haemovores. Enjoying any additional coverage the programme received during its 25th anniversary blissfully unaware that the programme was facing its demise in 1989. As I entered the 1990’s I continued to be a casual fan of Doctor Who receiving VHS’ as gifts at Christmas and birthdays with my interest being nudged along with the 30th anniversary special ‘Dimensions in Time’ in 1993 and the television movie in 1996. I was an art student when Sylvester McCoy bowed out of the role, I was sad to see ‘my’ Doctor regenerate to Paul McGann. But I enjoyed the story enough to want to see a new series, but alas it didn’t happen and we wouldn’t see any new televised stories for another 9 years but when it happened I was delighted with it, in fact I embraced it! So, I shall now try to wrap up this rant by (attempting) to make a point . When I became a fan of the show I made an effort to seek out and watch the Doctor’s previous stories before declaring my fandom to the world. So please, if you love the show and you want to wear a fez and bow tie go for it! Have fun! You believe the Weeping Angles to be the best monster ever? Fair enough, you are quite welcome to your opinion just do me a favour though, watch ‘An Unearthly Child’ through to ‘Survival’ before you do so. I think you will be pleasantly surprised…

© Arfon Jones 2013. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Friday 17 May 2013

A Monster Memories Special: Morgusian Inspiration from Morgus the Magnificent

Those of you that regularly read my ramblings will have noticed recurring, theme in my posts, monsters, nostalgia and things that I grew up with as a child that somehow managed to both intrigue me and influence my work. But today I would like to devote this post to something that I did not actually grow up with... But I know that had I had this as a child I would have undoubtedly lapped it up! namely the American institution known as the TV ‘horror host’.
For those not in the know (there’s always one) when the classic Universal horror movies were syndicated to television networks they were introduced by a ‘horror host’ and it became tradition that spanned throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. I watched a great deal of classic horror and science fiction movies on Friday and Saturday nights and even though I was aware of horror hosts, such as Vampira and Zacherly through books and magazines I was yet to experience one for myself. Naturally I was aware of Elvira Mistress of the Dark, but only through her movie, not her show. By the time the United Kingdom had its own horror host I was in my teens, that horror hosts was the BBC’s wonderfully devilish Dr Terror. Sadly his TV appearances were short-lived. In fact not many recall his tenure (I certainly do because he followed right after Ghostwatch on BBC 2!) But Dr Terror would educate us about the film we were about to watch (with segments written by horror connoisseur and novelist Kim Newman) the segments became shorter each year until they finally fizzled out along with the 90’s themselves BUT more on Dr Terror at a later date
Fast forward several years to the day I was able to upgrade from Dial-up to Broadband and use Youtube to its full potential. During the Dial-up days I had been further educated about horror hosts, and granted the ability to order Elivra’s dvds. But now, thanks to Broadband I was able to check out the works of other horror hosts for myself! Of all the ones I watched there was one clear winner for me that was, Morgus the Magnificent!

Unique to New Orleans only, ‘The House of Shock’ first aired in 1959 and starred Morgus created and played by New Orleans radio and TV personality, Sid Noël. Inspired by Don Quixote the segments told of Dr. Momus Alexander Morgus, a devoted mad scientist living in his laboratory atop the "Old City Icehouse" in the French Quarter. Each week accompanied by his silent assistant Chopsley he would unveil a new invention designed to improve the world and each week it would fail. ‘The House of Shock’ was an overnight success making Morgus a household name. Inspiring a ‘The Wacky World of Doctor Morgus’ movie in 1962. The show continued through to the 70’s only to be re-launched in the 80’s with 52 all new episodes. These episodes can still be seen in some parts of the US, while the good Doctor’s alter ego Sid Noël Rideau is now the force behind the New Orleans Public Library's Internet Story Club of America.  An online K-12 reading program featuring 52 original fables written by Rideau that teach youngsters about values, responsibility, honesty, self-respect.
Being a fan of mad scientist movies his style appealed the most to me. I enjoyed what clips I could find, savoured any new ones that found their way to the internet, and constantly visited for further developments. I ordered The Wacky World of Doctor Morgus’ on dvd. And followed it with the highly recommended ‘Morgus Presents Volume 1(The first-ever authorised release of the Doctor's experiments on home video dvd) not to mention the highly recommend ‘Hearse-ry Rhymes’ CD which feature a collection of poems written and narrated by the good Doctor himself. But the icing on the cake had to be the hand written note I received from him thanking me for my support! The note now hangs with pride in my laboratory/ studio delivering hours of Morgusian inspiration! To anyone living in the New Orleans, Louisiana area or followers of the horror host genre I am almost certainly preaching to the converted here, and will know full well what a legend he is. But those of you that are not familiar with the works of Dr. Momus Alexander Morgus and don’t know the sign of the “higher order” check out his web site and find out more and help support Morgusian science! Tell him Arfon sent you!

© Arfon Jones 2013. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Wednesday 15 May 2013

'Being Frank: The Chris Sievey story' Kickstarter fundraiser

Here is a picture taken from the entrance to my studio… I try to devote this blog solely to my work, but in this instance its not a project that I am directly involved with. But it does regard someone that has not only featured regularly in my work over the years but has also been an influence on it, Frank Sidebottom/ Chris Sievey (I am also a ‘backer’ of the project so I suppose I am involved in a small way.) I have often said that Chris Sievey is one of Britain’s most overlooked artists so I welcome any attempts to educate others about his life, work and legacy, case in point, ‘Being Frank: The Chris Sievey story’. This official feature length documentary by Steve Sullivan is devoted to the life of Chris Sievey and his infamous creation Frank Sidebottom. “Frank's real identity was a closely guarded secret and only a handful of people knew who was actually beneath the head. Now, following his untimely death in 2010, Chris Sievey’s family, close friends and colleagues are prepared to discuss this innovative, wayward genius for the first time and explain why he chose to spend 28 years hiding his identity and letting a fictional alter ego steal his limelight.”
A Kickstarter fundraiser has been launched to raise funds for the documentary. I am happy to report that the minimum target of £20,000 has been achieved assuring that all the interviews for the film can now be shot. However, it doesn’t end there the Kickstarter page is still in effect and they have added a stretch goal. If they can raise the total to £40,000 they will be able to acquire the rights to Frank’s classic TV which will make the documentary extra special! So please follow this link, find out more about this great venture pledge, and tell others about it by sharing the Being Frank Facebook page or following the film on Twitter
Thank you.

© Arfon Jones 2013. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Friday 10 May 2013

Slaughterhouse Farm#1 Launch at Wales Comic Con

I finally have a moment to write about the marvellous time I had at this year’s Wales Comic Con Wrexham! I was there along with the Hellbound Media team to officially launch Slaughterhouse Farm#1!
I am happy to report that it was a successful launch with a great many issues being sold on the day, but first a little about the comic itself…
As I have hinted in previous posts Slaughterhouse Farm is the latest 24 page new comic book by Hellbound Media, written by AJ Ballard and Matt Warner, lettered by Nikki Foxrobot and illustrated by me! I also did the cover, which was coloured by Steven Denton.  This horror tale has been set in the mountains of Snowdonia and serves as a blood-soaked homage to the 70s and 80s horror classics with a Welsh twist that has received very positive feedback from horror writers and horror fans alike. As a horror fan myself I was delighted to be approached by Hellbound to join this project as I thought it was about time North Wales had it own Jason or Leatherface! I have seen countless films with a great many feature a killer inhabiting ridiculous locations, Snowdonia on the other hand would be an ideal setting for such a scenario. With Snowdonia in mind I imagined the killer inhabiting the landscape and farmlands of Sir Kyffin Williams and I wanted a killer that reflected this design. I depicted him as a large figure, gnarled by age and the weather rather like a hillside tree, a lumbering figure of a man complete with flat cap! He has a rough and jagged face, which I based on actor Rondo Hatton. It can be ordered on Hellbound Media’s site but be warned, its for over 18s and those who are not easily offended as the comic contains scenes of graphic violence, sexual scenes and bad language!

The convention itself was fantastic and we had a wonderful time at the launch I was on hand to sign the comics alongside the comic’s writers AJ Ballard Matt Warner and the other half of Hellbound (and the man responsible for the brilliant Gabrell Cushing series) Mark Adams. Later in the day were joined by the ever delightful (not to mention current cover model of Skin Deep Tattoo Magazine) Siân Davies who played ‘the bloody bride’ for the comic’s promotion, which was inspired by the Pin-Up I created for the first issue. We had a hectic (but immensely enjoyable) day discussing horror and comics with several visitors to the table. At one point I went off to have lunch and was delighted to see so many comic buying folk dispersed amongst all the fantastic Cosplay perched at various points of the Con reading their issue of Slaughterhouse Farm#1! The event organisers should be commended for doing a bang up job, there were amazing guests there along with a friendly atmosphere amongst the crowd.
Many thanks to everyone who stopped at the table to chat and pick up an issue, if you were unable to make it to Wales Comic Con no matter! You can still order your very own copy via the Hellbound Media website!

© Arfon Jones 2013. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Wednesday 1 May 2013

The Heart of Sut ‘sneaky peek’

You can’t beat a good old-fashioned mummy, I love ancient mummies both historically and in popular culture I enjoy seeing them in films and museums! So imagine how pleased I was to discover that the ‘Heart of Sut’ adventure card game that I was working on needed not 1 but 3 mummies! I have illustrated 67 character/ weapon and monster cards for this game and even though the developers have been releasing a few preview images from the game on their facebook page I thought I would share this one on here. As I said the Heart of Sut is an Adventure card game which is aimed at 2-6 players set in a Steampunk Universe created by my good friend Chris Phillips and my arch nemesis James Richardson-Brown. Join the Heart of Sut group, show your support so as not to invoke the mummy’s curse…

© Arfon Jones 2013. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.


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