Teeny Haunts: Mad Mary

When I was 12 or 13, my parents shipped me off to summer camp up in the San Diego mountains. I think they just wanted to get me out of their hair for a little while.

The whole experience. Dusty cabins with a trek through the dark just to go to the bathroom. Me not knowing a single person. Me, the quiet artistic type trapped in a situation designed to bring out the social.

I hated it.

Well, not all of it. You see the counselors (I assume it was them) had nailed up a pair of rusty manacles to a tree by the lake. And they told me the tale of how Mad Mary used to be chained up. Her hair and fingernails grew long. She munched on squirrels or birds. Anything that came too close. Until one day she got free.

I’ve been to this camp again. It’s run by the YMCA and is right outside of Julian. You see, as a sixth grade teacher, I busses whole groups of impressionable kids up into the mountains.

Yet the tree with manacles is gone. And not a single person up there recalled the tales of Mad Mary. Had I dreamt it all up. Not likely. The stories provided fertile soil for my budding imagination.

This is how the tale start. Next Teeny Haunts will continue the tale.

Stay Haunted…

Tim

Pammy Pestilence: Episode 1

 

I had the idea for a teen version of one of the Horseman of the Apocalypse a few years back, but no specific story ideas. I thought it might develop into a novel, but all I had was the notion of an Emotional girl who’s constantly alone because everything, and everybody, rots around her. Then, when I experimented with making a web comic, I thought she might fit here. I have a few more episodes in mind. She won’t be totally alone for long. She has her other Horseman and visits at least one of the local Deaths on a regular basis.

The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil

Strolling through my Barnes and Noble, I stumbled across a graphic novel called “The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil.” How could I resist? Not only was it a beard. But it was an evil beard to boot.

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The graphic novel, but Stephen Collins, is a tranquil journey through a surreal word. I want to liken it to  Terry Gilliam or Tim Burton, but the experience isn’t that overt or obvious. The book’s tag line perhaps says it best — The job of skin is to keep it all in. Here, the skin means the skin of the world. Normalcy. The job of normalcy is to keep all the weird and frightening stuff in, so you don’t have to experience it. In this sense, the book take on a bit of the Cthulhu mythology. Only instead of a tentacled cephalopod, we get a massive black beard (which is evil, don’t forget).

Collins does a wonderful job of setting up the back story. Our protagonist, Dave, is totally bald and hairless, except for a single hair. This makes his eventual bearddom even more of a 180. This would be wonderful foreshadowing if the book title and image didn’t already let you know that the beard is, in fact, coming.

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Even so, I like how the Collins explains his world and gives its limitations, letting the reader know what’s at stake. For example, everyone in this graphic novel lives in a place called Here. It’s very similar to where you live, in fact. Only Here is an island surrounded by There. There is the unknown. The chaotic. The untidy.

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The image of Here versus There brings to mind the Greek idea of the beginning of the world.

Chaos

Tidiness seems to be a prevalent theme in the book. many pages and images are devoted to the tidying of the streets and the people. Gradually, as the evil beard makes its presence known, untidiness happens.

Dave’s only source of joy is sitting by his window and sketching the passersby (all while listening to the Bangles “Eternal Flame” on repeat). After he grows his beard, he notices how similar all the people are, and by contrast, how different he’s become.

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But this difference was there all along. Hidden beneath the skin of his dreams. He’s always heard the voices of There, hissing into his brain, bringing untidy thoughts.

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Of course, along with the brilliant story, we have Collins’s astounding artwork. His visuals aptly capture the serene creepiness of chaos leaking into the world.

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I highly recommend this book. Buy it and give it a good read through. You won’t regret it. Even if you are clean shaven.

Tim Kane

My Unexpected Comic Con Journey

Every year, I’ve been lucky enough to garner a professional badge to the San Diego Comic Con. Every year except this one. I was too slow on the draw to contact the Comic Con folks and when I did, they were out of badges. I didn’t like the situation, but what could I do? (This was after the sale of tickets.) So I spent my July hanging out with my family doing touristy vacation stuff (like SeaWorld and the La Brea Tar Pits). Then a good friend asked if I could use some comps (this would be Wednesday night, before the Con started). Of course I said yes.

The Ice King before the Mushroom War as Simon Petrikov

The Ice King before the Mushroom War as Simon Petrikov

With no planning, I embarked on my trek through the largest and most populated convention Saturday morning. I must say, no amount of Googling would predict the length of the badge line. (Up till this point, I’d gone through the professional entrance, which is very quick.) I arrived at 8:30, right when the website said badge pickup opens. There was a long line, so I pulled out my phone to busy myself. Then the lined moved and it never stopped moving. I was up in the Sails Pavillion, badge in hand, in under five minutes. Wow! Now, by the time 9:30 rolled around the place was packed, so I imagine the badge line was longer and moving slower. TIP: arrive at the start time to get your badge quickly.

A lounge singing Boba Fett? Not quite sure who these people are.

A lounge singing Boba Fett? Not quite sure who these people are.

I was waylaid at the Mattel booth for far too long. Their line up system was horrific. I wanted to snag an Ever After High doll for my daughter. Wanted is the key word. I’m willing to accept long lines and product vanishing. That’s a given at the Con. But the line was “capped” so that meant no one else could enter. Then the weirdness happened. The line moved forward (cutting the number of people in half along the wall) but the security guards wouldn’t let anyone else in. They were very aggressive and rude (apparently manhandling many patrons). I heard one guard tell a guest that he would confiscate his bag and kick him out if he didn’t keep moving.

Mojo Jo Jo and Him from the PowerPuff Girls.

Mojo Jo Jo and Him from the PowerPuff Girls.

The only way to get into the line, as far as we could tell, was to be lucky. Because people did get in. I stood on the sidelines, waiting for the capped sign to go down and let more people in, yet the line gradually grew back to its former length. I guess what you were supposed to do was circle the convention floor, like a shark in chummed water, and hope (that’s the best word) that they let you in. Ridiculous.

Needless to say, I never got into the line.

There were plenty of Game of Thrones cosplay going on.

There were plenty of Game of Thrones cosplay going on: Daenerys Targaryen and Dothraki Khal Drogo.

On the plus side, I was able to waltz into the Regular Show panel over at the Hilton. No line. No wait. This panel was amazing. They played the Thanksgiving song and we were gifted with an upcoming episode (The Bachelor Party). The cast was just entertaining as their characters. The panel featured J.G. Quintel (creator, Mordecai), William Salyers (Rigby), Sean Szeles (supervising director), Roger Craig Smith (Thomas), Minty Lewis (storyboard artist, Eileen), and Matt Price (story editor, Quips).

JG Quintel

JG Quintel

I snagged grub at great new restaurant called the Werewolf Pub (yes, that’s its name, no gimmick). The food was astounding. I will certainly visit again.

I loved seeing Hagrid's Monster Compendium on the shelf.

I loved seeing Hagrid’s Monster Compendium on the shelf.

The other panel I visited was the Marvel S.T.A.T.I.O.N. sponsored by former S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. The whole panel consisted of real scientists who played along with the S.H.I.E.L.D. premise (we were all promoted to level 4 S.H.I.E.L.D. agents). The panel discussed the scientific underpinnings of the four Avengers (Captain America, The Hulk, Thor and Iron Man) and how their powers worked. I enjoyed the debate over Thor’s hammer. Does it hold a liquid neutron star or does it use weak and strong nuclear forces to change it’s weight?

A full cosplay cast of SpaceBalls was also in attendance.

A full cosplay cast of SpaceBalls was also in attendance.

Of course I shopped and snapped pictures of any interesting costumed cosplayer I could find. That’s the best part about the Con, the folks you see. Everyone (minus the Mattel guards) were courteous and polite. Even when we were crammed into an aisle like tribbles in a ventilation shaft, everyone persevered and kept their smiles up.

Tim Kane