Tag Archives: halloween

Happy Halloween!

halloween crafts

Spooky, Creepy, BooOooOoo! BooOooOoo!

My friend the Vampire Bat used to send really elaborate care packages on Halloween and Valentine’s Day, handmade cards, candy, little seasonally-appropriate presents, the whole megillah. They were pretty special, to be honest, and I loved receiving them, but over the years, reciprocation became difficult. I had a family and work and didn’t always notice when holidays were coming up, let along make time in my schedule to plan for them a month in advance. And I guess I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t show my appreciation properly, and eventually she announced that she wasn’t going to put forth the effort anymore.

So now, sometimes, just to mess with her, I do send her handmade holiday gifts.

These little images—the “Spooky” owl, the “Creepy” spider, and the “BooOooOoo! BooOooOoo” ghosts—are from the packaging of some stickers that came in one of her last Halloween gifts to me, and they were so cute that after I stuck the stickers on things (what did I stick them on? I have no idea) I save the boxes with the intention of using them for some All Hallow’s Eve crafts for my friend. That was years ago, but when I found a random pair of metallic silver skeleton mermaid socks at Target (Target really goes all out with weird sock designs) I realized this was the year.

While playing around with the pieces (too bad I cut them up before this idea came to me) I realized that I could make a tiny card (the Vampire Bat likes tiny things) and then I realized I could make tiny books!

Unfortunately, I had used up all the printer paper printing out draft versions of a new comic book and neither The Man nor I work anyplace where we can reasonably steal printer paper anymore, so I had to use heavy card stock for the paper. It was harder to cut and my notebooks would have fewer pages, which would be hard to turn, but I soldiered on. What you do is you line all your pages up, clamp them together, and then apply liberal amounts of glue on one side. When it glues, the pages are basically bound together. Then you glue a bit of ribbon over that glued edge, to reinforce it. I used ribbon to bind the covers together and shore up the cardboard, and then I glued the paged into the cover. Viola!

For the card, I just used a piece of manilla folder to bind the 2 sides together. Lately, I’ve been trying to use up, rather than hoard, the vast quantities of art/office supplies I have been carrying around the country for 2 decades. The ransom letters and all the other words came out of a single issue of The Smithsonian.

My friend liked the gift (of course!) so now I can share it here.

November 1

no halloween

We could have this stuff 5 days a week, what do you think?

No, I don’t want to talk about it. Unless you think you’ve got something to say to me.

I know that a lot of people think Smarties are gross. I used to think I liked them. Tonight I didn’t even want the good chocolate.

On the plus side, I’m a finalist in a writing contest. If you want to cheer me up, you could vote for me. You can check out the complete list of finalists and all the entries here.

Happy Halloween!

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Sadly, I will be eating sushi and watching Frankenstein with the Fox during trick or treat, so the children of our fair city will be missing out on this flaming pumpkin action this year. 

Behold! The Ultragorgon!

No, it isn’t a confused tribute to Stranger Things, but rather to something that actually happened in the ’80s: The Jim Henson Hour. In this episode, “Monster Maker,” a kid visits a puppet shop and sees this half-finished dragon puppet, the ultragorgon, which later comes to life and teaches him things (bad things, I seem to recollect). The ultragorgon is massive. In real life, it took 8 puppeteers to animate him. Looking back, I don’t really remember The Jim Henson Hour and seemed to recall this as being associated with his previous project, The Storyteller. Much like Jim Henson, that project was wonderful, and ended way too soon. The Jim Henson Hour wasn’t terribly successful, and the network pulled the plug on it instead of giving him a chance to get it right, and Henson died about a year later. But “Monster Maker,” as a stand alone story, is a lot of fun.

I loved the design of the dragon, and thought it could be adapted to other things, so I’ve had the picture for a while, and when I decided to make the most elaborate jack-o’-lantern I’ve ever made, I pulled it out. It’s not really an exact match or anything, but it did come out pretty interesting for a misshaped pumpkin with a face cut into it. The nose was originally more complex but I accidentally punched it out. Oh well. You always have to do the smaller details first. Once you’ve made big cuts, you don’t want to mess with what’s left or you can knock the pieces out. The eyes are nice, and the ridges at the top of the head and down the center of the face. You can’t really see the horns that wrap around the side The thing about pumpkin carving is that you only do it once a year. If we did it once a month I bet I’d be much better at it.

Tn the right you can also see the edges of the cat pumpkin that the Girl carved mostly by herself, after spending 45 minutes staring at her pumpkin and talking about what she wanted to carve. She accidentally punched her whole design out, so The Man had to pin it back in with toothpicks. You can also see a bit of the Boy’s “derp” pumpkin. I guess it was supposed to look goofy but actually it looks worried and scared. It reminds me of my paternal grandmother, whose catchphrase was, “Oy vey, I was so worried.”

Next year, I will allot myself more than 90 minutes to carve a pumpkin, and get better tools, and work in a spot that isn’t completely full of flies, and I will make the greatest dragon face pumpkin the world has ever seen.

Halloween Insult Comics, 2016

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It’s not a lie. His mama is really covered in mold.

I lied! Whilst looking at my old comics from Halloweens past, I came across the original version of Halloween Insult Comics and realize that if I could find the original file, I could just write some new insults on the old image. And then I realized that I could use the horizontal type tool for the text, which is much more efficient than hand lettering. So this is a new comic. My hand is mostly OK now, and I have commission comic for cash money to draw this weekend.

 

Night with Robert Frost: Autumn Bulletin Board

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I’ve also been acquainted with the night. 

People seem pretty eager to jump into the spirit of October this year, and my last bulletin board was looking kind of shabby, and I’m just completely focused at this moment, so I took 3 days this week (just under 6 hours total) to put up my October bulletin board, which is always my favorite one of the year.

I was thinking bats, because it’s practically the only trope I haven’t hit in the many years I’ve been doing this. Then I looked for a poem, and found “Acquainted with the Night” by Robert Frost. You can read it in the link; I was working in the rain, so the lighting was terrible when I took this photo. But you get the gist. I decorated the calaveras with Sharpies; everyone in Tucson loves calaveras and I could envision them amidst the candles and piles of marigolds, although I wish I had more time to work on them, maybe make a couple more.

The poem is also in Sharpie. It’s not my best lettering; I’ve kind of been doing a lot of lettering lately and my hand just wasn’t in the game and I was feeling really rushed. The school is having a 60th anniversary party on Sunday and there’s more work to finish up the comic book: resizing the cover and editing the blog posts down to 400 words a piece.

When I wrote those words, it didn’t occur to me that they would exist off the internet. Hard copies seem to change everything.

It’s the Hypoallergenic Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

The rock is also suitable for children with lactose intolerance, nut allergies, and chemical sensitivity.

The rock is also suitable for children with lactose intolerance, chemical sensitivity, and peanut allergies. Not recommended for kids with behavior disorders, though. 

There will be no teal pumpkin in front of my house this Halloween; at the rate I’m going this year, there will be no pumpkins at all, let alone jack-o-lanterns, unless we obtain and carve them Friday afternoon or Saturday morning. I feel for kids with allergies. Personally, the list of things I can’t eat anymore is almost as long as the things I like these days, but there are just too many variables, and my budget for candy is pretty small anyway. Plus, we rarely get more than 2 dozen kids, and half the time we take off around 8 to go to a party.

If you haven’t seen It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, it’s worth 21 minutes of your time. I mean, media-wise, the ’60s were a simpler time. There are no explosions, no gore, and nothing the least bit scary, but it’s still a Halloween classic, in its way.

For many months now, I’ve been turning over an idea for another big, serious, depressing comic about my childhood, something that I’ve written about in longer prose work, but couldn’t quite figure out how to frame it in comic format. Today the way in seems to have revealed itself, but there wasn’t a chance to get it started because I went to 6 shoe stores unsuccessfully searching for a pair of minimalist sneakers identical to the pair I’ve been wearing since 2012 instead of drawing a long comic. Maybe tomorrow. Or at least get it started tomorrow, as I now realize that today is only Thursday.

Halloween Insult Comics

You're both so ugly people go as you for Halloween.

You’re both so ugly people go as you for Halloween.

Special fangs to the dear friend  (referred to, here and there in Dragon comics as the Vampire Bat, for reasons that must soon become clear) who sends out Halloween care packages every year and in whose honor this spooky insult comic was created. Most of the items in the image are from this year’s Halloween box; one is from a few years ago, and there’s also a commemorative matchbook for Bonnie Jo Campbell’s first novel, Q Road. You can’t make it out that well, but it’s a pumpkin with a butcher’s knife sticking out of it. Anyway, these buttons cracked me up the most. The jack-o-lantern especially looks like a real jerk.

Sadly, I still live in the desert, so all the chocolate in the Halloween box melted. However, the box itself is pretty nice. 1000 household uses. Skull Face and Jack-o-Lantern may insult each other in front of it again in the future. So spooky!

Ah, it’s all in good fun.

Tomorrow I have a photo shoot for a hair color blog. Financial remuneration has been suggested. Art!

Pumpkin Is the Spice of Life

Look, it's that time of year and I really felt like it needed to be said.

Look, it’s that time of year and I really felt like it needed to be said.

It may be an unpopular opinion, but it’s my opinion. I like pumpkin pie as much as the next person, and I can enjoy pumpkin (strictly in the months of October and November) in a variety of forms: soup, pie, perhaps in a savory dish like ravioli. I even enjoyed the unusual mashup of the Danish kringle with pumpkin yesterday. But, I have to draw the line. I don’t need my tea to taste like pumpkin spice, or my Oreos. Pumpkin spice, I believe, goes with actual pumpkin.

Anyway, I’m trying to get into the Halloween spirit. I need to find someone who wants to watch all the scary movies that have come out recently: The Babadook, Good Night, Mommy, The Visit. (No spoilers!) And The Man has acquired a pumpkin, which he promises to turn into a pie. Typically, I do the cooking around here, but I don’t have a lot of patience for fidgety things like pie crust, especially since I like mine gluten-free, which makes them twice as tricky. But the man is good at measuring things in a way that I am not. In fact, in his day job, he is a metrologist: a measurer of very, very small distances for very, very precise purposes. So he makes the crust. And since he’s making the crust, he can make the rest of it too while he’s at it.

So, while it seems obvious that the world disagrees with me on this, given the proliferation of weird pumpkin spice flavored things this season, and the fact that every year there are more of them in stores, I like to make a distinction. Pumpkin spice is for pumpkins, and you’ll never change my mind.

Who Shall Say Where One Ends, and Where the Other Begins?

Everything is impermanent.

Everything is impermanent.

A goodly percentage of my friends believe that you can never start celebrating Halloween too early. Since moving to Tucson, I get more excited about All Souls’ than Halloween, and this year I decided to create a Dia de los Muertos feel for the early autumn bulletin board. I also documented a lot of my process. The welcome back-to-school butterfly has faded and died,  and moved on to a new journey via the recycling bin, and we move from a symbol of transformation and life to a symbol of permanence and death: the calaveras.

Sketch done at 3 a.m. the night before, which is pretty good for me. Sometimes I go in there with no idea what I'm going to draw.

All you need to get started.

This little sketch was undertaken at 3 a.m. the night before, which is not bad. Sometimes I get in there with very little idea of what I actually intend to create. This is the first time I’ve ever made a thumbnail. You know that metric ruler belongs to the elementary school, and you know I’m the only one who uses it.

Clockwise, from top left: blank background, dress based on a traditional folklorico design, pieces laid out inside, scalpel for interior details.

Clockwise, from top left: blank background, dress based on a traditional folklorico design, pieces laid out inside, scalpel for interior details.

To begin, I tear down the old bulletin board, then get some butcher paper and create a new background, which takes 2 layers of paper and a lot of staples. I sketch out the individual pieces freehand and then cut them out with a pair of scissors, but for the interior details, I’ll often use a small blade.

Everything went smoothly up to this point; although I often feel a panicky sense of self doubt at the beginning, worrying if my art skills are good enough to pull off whatever I see in my head, getting the shapes out of the paper ended up being a simple process.

Transferring the cut-outs from the table to the bulletin board can be more of a challenge. For one thing, it’s windy out there, and for another, gravity works against me. Pretty much the first thing I did was accidentally dump half a bottle of rubber cement onto all the clothes while trying to place them, so I had to stop and clean that up. After that, things moved slowly, but with less incident.

Clockwise from top left: wind ruffles the first pieces; staples create detail in the sombrero; staples create detail on hem; a few flowers.

Clockwise from top left: wind ruffles the first pieces; staples create detail in the sombrero; staples create detail on hem; a few flowers.

A combination of rubber cement and staples seems to be the best choice for affixing paper to paper. The cemented edges may loosen over the next few weeks, but the staples will keep them from coming completely apart. The staples keep the entire design up; if I don’t use enough, sometimes the wind picks the paper up and steals it away. This has happened a few times, and once I never found it again. So, I try to use the staples as design elements. Instead of adding stripes to the clothing, I’ve used staples to create the accents. When the skeletons were satisfactorily placed, there wasn’t room for much text, and I couldn’t think of anything appropriate, so I just added some more flowers to keep things lively.

This was a relatively fast design: four hours from start to finish. Cutting letters probably would have doubled that. I’m pretty satisfied with the finished product, although I liked the faces better in my sketch. At any rate, this seems like a good way to kick off the season.

Happy Halloween, Samhaim, Dia de los Muertos, All Souls, what have you. In October, things die, and we rejoice in the fact that we're still alive to lament their passing.

Happy Halloween, Samhaim, Dia de los Muertos, All Souls, what have you. In October, things die, and we rejoice in the fact that we’re still alive to lament their passing.

The Breezeway Part 1

My first completed bulletin board, Halloween 2009.

My first completed bulletin board, Halloween 2009. I made up the bone letters. The other font came from a book in the library’s collection.

There’s a bulletin board outside the elementary school library where I volunteer, a scabrous, peeling wreck of old cork, exposed to the elements (this is Arizona, where year-round outdoor living means we keep a lot of things outside that northerners would never consider subjecting to the wind and rain) but prominently positioned in a breezeway through which most students and teachers regularly pass.

Winter, 2009 (I think)

Winter, 2009 (I think). These snowflakes are all hand cut, of course. The big one was a lot of fun to cut, but not that easy to affix to the wall.

Due to unconscionable budget inadequacies (this is Arizona, where certain people don’t understand the connection between funding education and creating a healthy and robust standard of living) I’ve held various degrees of responsibility in this library, including, for certain periods, being the only person to staff it in any way and basically completely in charge, with the principal’s blessing.

 

Summer, 2010. Even though school's not in session, I like to put something up for the kids and adult in camp and summer school on this campus.

Summer, 2010. Even though school’s not in session, I like to put something up for the kids and adult in camp and summer school on this campus.