Masters of the Macabre: Bernie Wrightson

I first discovered Bernie Wrightson back in my college days in Buffalo, NY.  He wasn’t one of the established artists of the academic world, and someone that my professors would, for the most part, thumb their collective noses at since as an illustrator/comic creator Bernie wasn’t a ‘true’ artist in their minds.

Fortunately, I had a small group of friends that were into comics, metal, punk, and horror/sci-fi movies from whom I learned about Bernie. What drew my attention to his work is  not just the subject matter, which was a big part of it, but his craftsmanship and attention to detail/composition.

I’ve always been fascinated with and drawn to, yes that’s a shitty pun, line work when creating art. A painting professor at the time made the statement that I’d be capable of painting with sticks, which is rather appropriate. I’ve never been interested in fields of color or blending. The abstraction of the line and the contrast of black ink and white paper always has been a part of my core as an artist. So, for me seeing Bernie’s work in black and white (although he has done color work and work in other mediums) was like manna from heaven. The fact that here’s a dude doing the type of work I adore in the medium I’m obsessed with was, and still is, fantastic. The fact that Bernie was alive and producing new work, unlike so many of the artists in the pantheon of the academic art world, was refreshing. It proved to me that not only was Bernie’s work relevant, but that that style and genre were too.

Despite the years that have passed since my college years, and the passing of Bernie last year, he still continues to inspire me and every time I look at his work I learn something new that can be applied to my own work and in my own style.

In the video interview I posted at the top Bernie mentions how when he draws its like his mind is projecting the image on the page as he draws, I can definitely relate to the idea. His thoughts on line drawing versus painting is also worth a listen.

 

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Review: The Devil’s Candy

 

 

 

Plot: When Jesse and his family buy an old farmhouse in rural Texas, they believe that they’ve finally accomplished the American Dream, despite there being a recent murder in the house. But as time goes by Jesse, a struggling artist who’s sole income is painting comissions for banks, etc, begins to have strange experiences in his home studio which result in some horrific paintings. As he struggles to understand why this is happening, a rather rotund and disturbed stranger begins to harass his young daughter both at home and at school.

The Good: What I immeaditely liked about The Devil’s Candy is that it featured an artist as its protganonist and it used his painting and heavy metal as a means to show the influence of something supernatural and sinister. It went about this in a serious way, rather than being satrical or cartoonish. Nor did it have an underlying message that these forms of creativity were ‘evil’ unto themselves, which some conservatives and Bible thumpers may have you believe.  Often in Hollywood you see metal heads portrayed as stoners/burn outs and artists as flaky and/or snobs or bumbling cliches. I liked the fact that Jesse was portrayed in a relatable manner as a guy struggling to support his family, raise his daughter and at the same time persue his passion of art. I could relate his overdue bills, rejections from galleries, and having to paint the perverbial, or in Jesse’s case the literal, butterflies to make some cash.

I also liked the fact that unlike the one thousand and one clones of Amityville out there, Jesse did not become the crazed lunatic possesed by the devil. I thought it was a refreshing change of pace from the archtype that the possession/haunted house movies usually follow.

The events of the movie do take a toll on the relationship between Jesse and his daughter, which I thought was a good approach. Sometimes movies or books show people bonding when experiencing horrific events, but I felt it was far more realistic to have a rift between Jesse and his daughter develop over the course of the plot. It also added complexity to the conflict that Jesse was going through. Not only did he wonder if he was going mad from all the weird experiences in his studio, but he also faces the peril of the stranger threatening his family and on top of it the self-doubt and anguish of not being able to protect his daughter and having her lose faith in him as a result.

The acting overall was well done, in particular there’s a short scene between Jesse and an art gallery owner that is super creepy. There’s nothing violent or grotesque about the scene, but it defintely fills Jesse and myself as a father, with unease.

The Devil’s Candy manages to tie together all the characters and subplots together at the end pretty well. It’s not going to hold your hand and tell you absolutely everything, but I was happy with the conclusion. In the end I felt that I had a good idea as to why Jesse was experiencing what he did, and that he and his family would never be quite the same afterward.

The Bad: There really isn’t anything that struck me as awful in this movie. However there is a scene during the final confrontation between Jesse and the stranger that just looks like really cheap or poorly done CGI. It did ruin the immersive effect the movie had up to that point, but in the end didn’t kill the ending for me.

Conclusion: The Devil’s Candy is far more psychological with bits of supernatural in it, but it does contain the kidnapping and murder of young girls as part of its backstory. If your sensitive to that type of subject matter your better off not seeing it.

The Devil’s Candy is not a gory movie and other than a few violent acts in the beginning and end, it’s not excessive. It’s far more psychological than anything else.

If you enjoy metal, then you’ll probably enjoy the inclusion of various metal tracks in the movie and the realistic portrayal of a metal head like Jesse and his daughter. The Devil’s Candy is a smartly written and well acted movie that’ll appeal to you if your idea of horror goes beyond ‘gorehound’ film and cheap scare tatics. If you’re looking for an interesting spin on the whole ‘Amityville’ type subgenre of horror then I recommend this one to you. I saw it on Netflix, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you can find it elsewhere.

 

 

 

 

10 Rules of Success from Steven Speilberg

Anita Rodgers Mystery Writer

tips from steven speilberg

Link to video in comments…

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The Devil Comes At Midnight (Finished Drawing)

 

The Devil Comes At Midnight
The Devil Comes At Midnight – pen, ink, brush 2018 copyright Kevin Hurtack

Finished this up yesterday morning. I’m pleased with how it turned out, and after reading up and experimenting with GIMP I managed to get the tones just about right. I don’t think it’s possible to make them exact but I’m satisified with how it turned out as a scanned image.  I had a lot of fun doing this one.

My wife was the first one to see it complete and her words were ‘it’s insane, literally insane’. That’s what I was aiming for, so hopefully she’s not alone in her opinon.

 

Deep Down (New Art/Poetry)

Deep Down

 

DEEP DOWN

deep down

below the ground

the Eldritch lay

like forgotten gods

in their antediluvian tombs

calling out to mankind

across aeons of dust & grime

of fortunes untold

luring men fearless & bold

to their doom

in the eternal darkness and cold

Ron Marz on Coffee Stories …

Comics Writer Ron Marz On Coffee Stories And The Return Of Art

A great interview and insight about writing, art, and social media with Ron Marz. Worth listenting to for all writers/artists regardless of genre/format.

The Waiting Game…

I finally got some definte good news from a small press publisher about one of my drawings earlier this week. They want to use a drawing for a future issue of their magazine.

It’s defintely exciting to get such good news, especially since they’re a paying market and a publisher who puts out a quality publication. I can’t say too much more right now, but once the issue comes out later this year I will give you the details.

I’m not about to quit my day job, but it’s nice to get an acceptance letter and a payment rather than another rejection slip or even worse no response back at all.  I think not hearing anything back from a publisher is the worst, because it takes a lot of effort and time to create something and a certain amount of courage and self-confidence to submit it.  Rejection letters defintely suck, but at least I’m completely aware that they  looked at my submission and made a decision. No response at all is a let down and feels like I wasted my time.

Rather than dwell on the perpetual waiting game of hearing back from publishers, I prefer to keep busy with new projects. The worst thing to do, in my opinion, is to keep my email open in my browser and obssesively checking it.

The same can be said when it comes to getting work accepted. I’ll defintely take time to celebrate, but I know I need to  keep creating, keep improving/learing, and keep submitting work.

 

 

Book Review: Darkness on the Edge of Town

darknessontheedgeoftown

 

 

Darkness on the Edge of Town by Brian Keene

2010, Leisure Books

Premise: One day the citizens of Walden wake up to find their town in perpetual darkness and with no way to communicate with the outside world. The darkness not only poses a physical threat if anyone attempts to leave town, it also has a strange and dangerous effect on the minds of the citizens of Walden.

This is the first book I’ve ever read by Brian Keene. What drew me into the story was the personality of the narrator, Robbie. He’s an average guy, delivery boy I think, who’s simply trying to get through life with his girlfriend much like every other 20-something. He has loyalty to his lfriends and to a greater extent the town of Walden.  He’s an ‘every man’ for the most part, albeit a bit of a stoner, who’s thrust into extradordinary situation when the darkness arrives in  town. The fact that he’s not some over the top action hero or natural born leader or jackass makes the narration made him a likeable character as well as a believable one.

The main plot of the novel focuses on Robbie, his friends, and an assortment of fellow citizens, trying to find a way past the darkness. They also attempt to find out the cause/origin of the darkness and whether the rest of the world exists beyond it. Their attempts have varying degrees of failure and minor sucesses.

Unlike most novels, there is no tangiable villian in the novel. Instead it is an ambigous presence in the form of the darkness. However, that doesn’t lessen the threat that it posses to Robbie and the rest of Walden.

In one early scene when Robbie and his friends approach the edge of town, the darkness shows them apparent hallucinations or illuisions that take the form of each characters loved ones that have passed away.

Later on in the novel, it is suggested that sudden outbursts of anger between Robbie and his girlfriend along with all the chaos and violence throughout the town is the result of the darkness’ pressence in their minds.

Whether the darkness is corrupting and tempting them into violence  and anger or whether it’s the banal consequence of being trapped within the town’s limits is never fully explained.   But it is interesting to see how it effects the relationships that Robbie has as the story progresses.

The characters, in particular Robbie, really drive the story. Robbie takes it upon himself early in the novel to ‘save’ people, but over the course of the story his outlook on things shift to a more self preservation attitude. It’s an interesting twist on the trope of a reluctant hero, a character starting off self-centered and developing into a ‘hero’ that saves the day. Instead Keene presents in the reverse of what we’re used to, and I think its much more believable and a refreshing take on the idea that the main character is the ‘hero’.

Midway through the novel, Robbie and his friends along with some other towns folks attempt breach the darkness. Without giving too much away, things don’t go well and Robbie and his friends find themselves the targets of a lynch mob that gathers outside their apartment building.

All of this made for a great read, however Keene drops the proverbial ball toward the end of the novel. He wrote a chapter where Robbie attempts to find answers by meeting with the local crazy homeless guy. It turns out he has some knowledge about what’ s going on but it comes across as a scatter brained mashup of bad theology and HP Lovecraft. No real answers are given and as a reader I felt it dragged on much too long.

Afterwards, Keen manages to give an ending that feels more like he ran out of steam or was simply writing to reach a predetermined word count, rather than wanting to tell a full story. Nothing is resolved by the final page. I had no idea what the fate of  Robbie and his friends was, what happened to the lynch mob outside the apartment complex, or whether the world still existed outside the darkness or not.

The ending left me feeling dissatisifed, especially after reading over 200 pages and developing a connection with the characters and their plight. I don’t mind ambigous endings when it comes to short fiction or filling in some minor unanswered questions but when an author fails to conclude major plot lines,  I get annoyed.

Brian Keene has a reputation for being a stellar novelist in the horror genre. I enjoyed his literary voice, and his character development. Although I’m not happy about the ending of the novel, I would check out his other work and hope that this weak ending is a fluke and not a staple of Keene’s novels.

Year of the Worm: Cover Art

yearofthewormcover1a

Cultists, Ex-girlfriends,  and Shotgun toting preachers.

For Jackson O’Neil the worst part of the New Year isn’t the killer hangover or the fact that he wakes up in ex-girlfriend’s apartment with no clue as to how he got there. He soon finds himself at the center of a bizarre series of events that threaten his life and the very fabric of reality.

Year of the Worm is my upcoming webcomic series which will be arriving in March 2017. My plans are to upload a page or two at least every Sunday. I’ll be posting it here and also at the webcomic site Taptastic

If you want to subscribe to Year of the Worm on Taptastic, a great site with some terrific webcomics for free, use this LINK If you like what you see, I’d appreciate it if you click the ‘like’ button on Taptastic.

 

 

Bookworms

I had this idea for this drawing for a long time. Sometimes ideas come and go, but this one stuck around until I finally put it on paper. I did a rough sketch awhile back in my sketchbook and then it sat there for a bit over the holidays. Still, it called to me and toward the end of the year I started working on it.

I’m glad the idea stuck around.

In part it was influenced by H.P Lovecraft’s Necronomicon as well as Robert Bloch’s short story ‘The Shambler From The Stars’ which features a nefarious tome called ‘The Mysteries of the Worm’. scan_20170115