Tuesday, April 24, 2012

KC Rock & Comic-Con!

I'll have a table at this show this coming Saturday.  Doors open at 5:00PM, not Noon as has been reported elsewhere.  I don't know a thing about the bands that are playing -- but there will be a good mix of cool stuff from dealers and KC area comics pros -- and it should be a fun show.  Aftershock hosts a twice a month rockabilly night, and I've been to plenty of those.  They do good food, too.  Come on out and buy some art and comics, have a beer and hear some bands!

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Other Phantom--RIP: William Finley

In 1974, as a teenager, I walked into a movie theater, sat down and saw Brian DePalma's Phantom of the Paradise for the first time. At the end of that screening, I wasn't sure what to think about what I'd just seen--it was so odd, so full of strange imagery, almost like an underground comic book come to life.  Part horror movie, part super hero film--a rock musical, a comedy, a tragedy, a love story--almost too much to process.  I wasn't even sure if I liked it or not.

I saw it again.  

And again. 

All in all, I saw it fourteen times on that first release--catching showings in the Quad Cities as well as in my home town of Muscatine, Iowa.  I saw it again in Iowa City and even in West Liberty's delightfully vintage New Strand theater.  By then it had become my favorite movie--and it remains so today.  With viewings on cable TV, video cassette and DVD, I've lost track of the number of times I've seen it--but I can say I've watched it more than any other film in my long list of favorites.

This mash up of Phantom of the Opera and Faust grabbed me on any number of levels, and never let go.  I loved the music (written by Paul Williams, who also plays the Faustian music producer, Swan), the look of the film, the humor, the horror--and I had a major crush on the female lead, Jessica Harper (also in Dario Argento's Suspiria and the highly underrated Rocky Horror sequel Shock Treatment).   I got over the crush, but still love everything about the film.

I collected all I could on PotP--posters, soundtrack album, lobby cards, pressbook, sheet music, novelization--even the radio and TV spots (45 rpm record and 16 mm film).  But that's about all there was to collect--unless one went after actual movie props, autographs, etc.  Replicas of the Phantom's helmet were out there to be had, but I never did pull the trigger on that purchase.  Decades after the film's release, Medicom produced two variant Phantom of the Paradise 12 inch action figures--one with knife--one with plunger (see the film, I won't spoil the joke here). Despite the hefty "instant collector's item" price, I popped for both.

A few years ago, I heard about a Phantom themed convention being held in Canada.  It seems the movie, which pretty much flopped elsewhere, had been a huge hit in Winnipeg--and the fans there organized something called Phantompalooza -- and arranged for all the stars of the film to be guests.  I heard about this a few days before it was being held -- and, unfortunately, it was far too late to arrange for me to make the trip.  I still shake my head over missing that particular party.  There is a DVD with highlights of the event--I have it of course, and it's nice--but I wish I could have been there.

So it hit me pretty hard when I heard the news last week that the movie's star, William Finley had passed away.  Finley's film credits are pretty sparse -- only 20 titles listed on the imdb, and that inlcudes several TV appearances.  Most of his film work was for his friend Brian DePalma.  Along with playing the tortured songwriter Winslow Leech, who becomes the titlular Phantom, he was Emil Breton in the horror/suspense Hitchcock homage, Sisters--Raymond Dunwoodie in The Fury--and the (uncredited) voice of Bobbi in Dressed to Kill.  His collaborations with DePalma span from the short film Woton's Wake in 1962 through the feature film The Black Dahlia in 2006. 

A friend got me his autograph a while back--and that's a nice thing to have--but I regret I'll never be able to shake the man's hand and tell him how much his performance and the film mean to me.  So, so long Winslow/Phantom/William. "Rest in peace--and dream--dream it never ends..."

William Finley and Jessica Harper as Winslow and Phoenix in Phantom of the Paradise.

William Finley as Emil Breton in Sisters.

Original release movie poster.

 Alternate poster -- this graphic was the cover art for the soundtrack LP.

Alternate poster -- with art by Neal Adams and Richard Corben!

Phantom drawing by me -- a "Phan" commission

THE PHANTOM "The Power House Gang" Week 3

Week 3 of The Power House Gang.  I didn't keep the roughs for this one -- so the only extra I have to show is the black and white line art.  I tried a little something different with the textured gray tones in the background.  I think it added a nice mood to the piece.  Once again. I've taken advantage of the expanded layout possibilities in the new format.  Note that the first two recap panels use art from last week -- but reworked so as not to be total repeats.  A very simple color scheme this time. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Power House Gang week2

The tale of The Power House Gang continues. Here is this week's Phantom Sunday page, script by Tony DePaul -- everything else by me. Circumstances have led me to take over the coloring of the strip with this week's installment -- and I hope the readers will like my approach in this and future episodes.

Below the final print version, you'll find this week's "extras" -- two stages of the preliminary pencils -- one very rough and another close to finished. You can see I made some changes between the first rough pencil layout and the final version. I'm so glad the current format allows for these large vertical panels (when needed) -- it really lets me do a more dramatic page.

The original black and white ink art for this page will be up for auction on eBay soon. In the meantime, the previous page is still up for bid (see my previous blog post for a link).

See you in the "funny papers!"

Friday, April 13, 2012

What am I bid? Where will I be?

I'm selling the original art for the latest Phantom Sunday page on eBay -- if interested CLICK HERE.  I'll be doing this regularly, so if you want to keep track of my auctions, my seller name is beattylee.
( For those who wonder about such things, the seller name goes back to when my account was shared with someone else.)

I should also note that upcoming convention appearances include SpringCon in the Twin Cities -- where I hope to see many old friends -- and my first time at the Superman Celebration in Metropolis, IL.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


This week's Phantom marks the beginning of a new story -- and the first to be drawn exclusively by me.  The previous tale saw me stepping in after the untimely passing of Eduardo Barreto and several fill in strips by long-time Phantom daily strip artist Paul Ryan.  This Sunday also marks the last strip to be colored by Tom Smith.  Tom had colored the feature for Paul for several years, and came back to it when my art began running -- but  budgetary reasons demand that I take on the color chores as well as the rest of the art.  My thanks to Tom for helping me get off to a running start -- it was much appreciated.

Since it's Easter, I hid an "Easter egg" in the strip.  Do you see it?

Below is my rough pencil version -- today's extra for my blog readers.  And below that, a rejected version of the last panel.  The Phantom's pose struck me as too similar to the hiding-behind-the-tree shot in my first Sunday page -- so I reworked it.

Come back next week for more!

Oh -- the original art for last week's Sunday is still up for bid on eBay for a couple days.  Please have a look.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Double dose of The Phantom

I was busy attending Planet Comicon last weekend -- and forgot to post last Sunday's Phantom strip here! So here's a double dose -- last week's and today's.  As an extra, I'm including the B&W ink art prior to color, so you can see just how much colorist Tom Smith brings to the table here.

Please note the extra special King Features guest star in last week's strip.  The script called for some sort of funny or cartoon image on Sgt. Maurice's coffee cup, and since KFS owns Popeye, well, I couldn't resist.

This week's strip is the final page in the "Shadows of Rune Noble" story line -- and my first chance to draw the Phantom recording his adventures in the Skull Cave -- and to draw my versions of Guran and Devil.  Seems Guran is the computer whiz and The Ghost Who Walks is a bit technologically challenged!  I really enjoyed drawing Eric Sahara/Nomad's trophy room.  I suspect we will see more of Nomad - but as for next week?  New adventure!!!

Congrats, by the way, to Tom Yeates, who takes over the art on the Prince Valiant strip with today's Sunday page.  Welcome to the King Features, crew, Tom!  And best wishes to Gary Gianni, who leaves the strip after a decade of wonderful work.