Exhuming Dead & Buried while Drawing

I returned to my Roku’s Amazon Video channel in order to bask in trash that I can halfway ignore while sketching. The great thing about Amazon’s Prime besides the expedited shipping is the addition of Prime video which is promoted as having a lot of original series and big Hollywood movies, but it’s packed about hip deep with trash. This is where I live. While trawling through the dump that is Amazon’s video library I came across Dead & Buried (1981) which I haven’t seen since it was first run on HBO back in the early ’80s.

Usually when you get an icon for a movie with a plain type treatment as pictured above rather than the movie poster, you are in for some trash. A lot of Italian barf bag movies like Zombie or House by the Cemetery get the same “afterthought” treatment. It feels like a lot of the stuff from the Dawn of the Home Video era when Mom-and-Pop shops rented mostly exploitation films in plain brown boxes with Dymo labels. This is the equivalent of Amazon’s Dymo label.

I remembered Dead & Buried being kind of crappy so my expectations were low, but it was better than I remembered it. It’s sort of a cross between 2,000 Maniacs and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I won’t rehash the plot because it could be outlined on a napkin, and you’ll have it figured out once the characters are introduced. It’s not original, but it was beautifully filmed and lit and the special effects by Stan Winston were terrific (except for one tacked on scene which Winston did not do.) It had an atmosphere and some beautifully back-lit, spooky crowd scenes similar to the John Carpenter’s The Fog which came out around the same time. Rather than slowly build the plot, the movie wanted to get right on with creative murders which had a needlessly nasty edge. My guess is that they were trying to cash in on the wave of lunatic in the woods movies like Friday the 13th which were raking it in at the box office back then. It’s a shame because it had more going for it than the conveyor belt murder pictures. According to IMDB producers interfered with the production making sure that this film was deposited to the bottom of a forgotten barrel. It’s a shame because the original script could probably be dusted off and turned into something halfway decent.

Sonny ChibaAs background noise it was fine as I sketched away in the remainder of the Sketchbook from Heaven. I’m working out what will be a comic book story visually and working out dramatic poses and positions of the characters. I was thinking of Sonny Chiba as I drew the Atomic Warrior at the top of the page. In The Street Fighter (also available on Amazon’s Prime as well as dollar stores everywhere) Chiba made these Dracula-like contortions of his body where he was skulking in a menacing manner and exploding into action at the same time. Recoiling and attacking at the same time. That’s what I’m doing with A.W. as he slides back avoiding what will be an attempted blow from the monstrously misshapen mistake of science and popular culture circa 1979, Pink Zeppelin.

Which one is Pink?

I will make the Atomic Warrior panel wider so you get the full effect of his igniting his atomic sword which will illuminate the room and reveal the two-headed monster. In this drawing I was trying to get the pose. The sketch started at the YMCA and I worked over the tones at the dining room table.

As I sketched I also watched a number of episodes of the second season of Better Call Saul which is available on Netflix. This terrific spinoff from Breaking Bad deserves my stricter attention, but what I was scribbling in my soon to be depleted sketchbook was more compelling. I could spend the rest of my life gleefully consuming what others are producing, but beyond scintillating water cooler conversation, it’s not going to do too much for me. I love these programs, but I don’t obsess over them as I do my silly scratchings. As good as it is, other people’s creative output is not enough. The time spent watching a program is gone forever. If I partially watch something and draw, at least I’ll have a drawing at the end.

The sticker encrusted Sketchbook from Heaven. The coated white cover gets beat up so I cover it in whatever stickers come my way,

The same goes for the time spent on my commute. I rely on public transit which is an excellent way to become a misanthrope. If I don’t have something to sketch or read, I have entirely too much time to bask in the humanity of my fellow commuters. On full display are outlandish fashions and behaviors by people who don’t seem to realize that they are in public and not their own homes. I’ve seen way too many generous displays of intergluteal clefts. I’ve been privy to too many allegedly private cell phone conversations. AND this is during rush hour when people head to and from work. In between those hours are worse. I’m riding with the unemployed and unemployable. That’s when you get folks headed to family court or the Oxy Nodders defying gravity and centrifugal force as they miraculously maintain their seats while unconscious. You hear a lot of loud conversations about disability claims and parole officers. There are eight-million stories in this naked city, and they are all depressingly the same.

Working out an attacking Pink Zeppelin in unsharpened 2mm red lead on the Market-Frankford Elevated Train

Me? Headphones on. Heavy metal on. Sketchbook open. I’m happier that way. My mind is elsewhere rather than concentrating on somebody’s banal phone conversation.

So a story and a choreography of fight scenes is coming together through these sketches. I’m having successes that I want to pursue and making the mistakes I want to avoid in the final piece. It’s a learning process.

Where’s my McGuffin?

This is all coming together as my pencil takes me where it’s going. I’m really enjoying the ride.

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