Archive for kelly o’rourke

a top ten of random thoughts

Posted in commentary with tags , , , , , , , on May 19, 2010 by Christopher Pearce

We’re in finals week here, which means lots of proctoring tests. Since I’m not drawing, I thought I’d take a second and post some random thoughts and links, very few of them teacher related. Proceed with caution.

1. My arm is feeling MUCH better, as is the rest of my doughy, unattractive body. I’m going to give drawing a go tonight and hop to be on track with posting new comics next week. Thanks to all for the kind words, comments, e-mails and the like.

2. I found this interview with writer Kelly O’Rourke on Halloween Fans that may be of interest to some readers here. You may remember her from this Thrift Store Finds entry I did a few weeks ago about the strange YA series based on John Carpenter’s seminal horror masterpiece. She sounds like a cool lady!

3. Also, I found out in that interview (and subsequent searches on eBay) that those Halloween novels go for a ridiculous amount of money on the secondary market. We’re talking like, $50 bucks per book! Of course, that price is contingent on being able to find someone who is willing to spend $50 bucks on a YA Halloween novel… but it sort of cracked me up that two books I found in my thrift store and paid less than a dollar for could potentially net me $100 dollars. I felt like I was on a low rent version of Antiques Roadshow!

4. Similar update: Remember when I wrote about The Superman Story a few weeks back? Well, it turns out that you can read the entire thing FOR FREE if you click over to Google Books here. It’s not the most enjoyable way to experience the book, but the scans are big and clear, and it’s a fun story.

5. Ellen and I finally took a tentative step into the early 2000’s by signing up for Netflix. I used to have a subscription myself, but when the DVDs started piling up for months at a time, it was cut from the budget. We’re enjoying the Watch Instantly feature of our subscription like crazy. In the past few weeks I’ve been taking in a lot of stand up comedy specials that I’ve been meaning to see for a long time… Ellen’s been re-watching TV shows she used to enjoy when she lived in England… and Elliot’s become obsessed with the PBS animated series Arthur.

6. Internet Pal Tyler Stafford just put out a great comic book! Dead Man’s Dream (and Other Stories) can be yours for the low, low price of $3.50. I just received my copy and it’s great. Tyler has this weird, techno-organic style that’s a joy to look at. See some samples and buy the book here.

7. Some other books I’m currently reading: Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live by Tom Shales and J.A. Miller (This is a re-read, honestly… but such an amazing book), The Bachman Books by Stephen King (I’m currently in the middle of The Long Walk), The Tomb of Dracula Omnibus 2 (A $100 hardcover collection of the 1970’s Marvel series… goofy fun), and I am slowly making inroads with The Book of Lost Things by John Connelly. Looking forward to the summer so I can perhaps finish one or two of these.

8. I’m not much of an online video game player, but like most people my age, I’ve become totally enraptured by Super Mario Bros. Crossover, wherein you can play through the original Super Mario Bros. with one of five classic Nintendo heroes including Mega Man, Simon Belmont, Link, Samus from Metroid, and the guy from Contra. If you recognized any of those characters, you would probably enjoy giving this game a looksee.

9. I recently discovered the WordPress feature which allows you to see the terms that people used to find my comic in a search engine and they’re weirdly fascinating to me. Things you’d expect are at the top of the list, terms like romeo and juliet comics, chris pearce comics, and other likely phrases… but then there’s just weird ones. Like, someone found this blog by doing a search for pretty horse pictures. I can only assume they found me because of this She-Ra painting I posted.

10. Oh wow, Disney and BOOM! Studios are doing a Darkwing Duck comic book! I’ve always thought that Disney’s leaving a lot of money on the table when it comes to the animated characters that comprised their Disney Afternoon block of programming in the Nineties. I was 10 years old in 1991 and fairly obsessed with Darkwing Duck, Talespin, and Ducktales, and they finally seem to have decided to cater to my nostalgia. BOOM! has a great track record with licensed characters (their Muppet Show comic book is easily one of the best comic series I’ve read in the past year) so I’m definitely going to give this a try!

thrift store finds

Posted in commentary, thrift store finds with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 1, 2010 by Christopher Pearce

(Thrift Store Finds is a mostly-weekly “column” of sorts where I discuss some of the cool books I’ve happened upon in my neighborhood St. Vincent DePaul store. Please don’t mistake me for an expert on any of the books I am writing about… I’m just a fan of a bargain.)

This week, we’re going to take a break from comic paperbacks. I’m going spend some time with a couple of semi-interesting (well, they’re semi-interesting to me, anyway)  movie tie-in books I’ve uncovered.

I’m currently reading Blockbuster: How Hollywood Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Summer by Tom Shone, a not altogether convincing but still enjoyable defense of the brainless summer movie. I should say, while I have a great appreciation for movies, especially the New Hollywood flicks of the 1970’s, I was raised in the wake of the blockbuster. I grew to love love Robert Altman and Hal Ashby, but in my formative years, I mostly suckled at the respective cinematic teats of Spielberg and Lucas.

For that mental image… you’re welcome.

Anyhow, due to the fact there was NO real merchandise to speak of for Jaws in 1975,  there was a void to fill. People wanted Jaws stuff. I guess that’s where 101 Shark Jokes came from.

The jokes are predictably corny.

The author of 101 Shark Jokes is Phil Hirsch, and while I don’t know and can’t find a lot about the guy, I can tell you that all the cartoons in this book come courtesy of Don Orehek, a gag cartoonist who you may recognize as a contributor to the frequently referenced in Thrift Store Finds MAD Magazine knock-off Cracked Magazine.

Don’t hold that against him though- although the jokes are moldy oldies even by Seventies standards, a lot of the drawings are a lot of fun. Orehek has a loose, tossed off style that suits the “let’s get something out on bookshelves to exploit Jaws-mania” that suits this book.

I can’t pretend I understand where that Mark Spitz joke came from… but when was the last time you heard a Mark Spitz joke? Huh? Probably 1975!

Speaking as someone for whom Jaws is easily one of his Rob Gordon/High Fidelity Top Five Favorite Movies Ever, if I was a little kid I would have wanted this book. I would have wanted it for the same reason I wanted Batman toys in 1989- to take that fun experience I had in the theater and carry it with me past the multiplex. It seems as though knock-off books such as this was as good as it would have gotten for a Jaws fan in ’75.

……………………………….

I came across these books a few weeks ago and while I can’t get up the gumption to actually sit down and read them, it blows my mind that someone took the hard R-rated Halloween movie property and turned them into a Goosebumps-like series for kids. Michael Myers was pretty damn vicious in those flicks! I know most of my students have seen worse horror movies than the original Halloween by the time they are in middle school, but it still makes me scratch my head.

As near as I can tell, these are the first two books in a four book series by Kelly O’Rourke in 1997, most likely produced in anticipation for Halloween H20, the badly-named but actually not too terrible sequel to the original Halloween which reunited Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode with her crazy bro.

O’Rourke expands on the Halloween mythos (the Myers family, the town of Haddonfield) without actually digging into the plots of past and future movies. In other words, Michael Myers is hacking kids to bits as per usual, but Laurie Strode and Dr. Loomis are nowhere to be found here. Working around the periphery of a big movie is kind of a cool concept, if you can put aside the knowledge that the movies these books were based on are probably far too mature for the kids these books are aimed toward.

…of course, when I was a little kid, I wasn’t allowed to see even one minute of A Nightmare on Elm Street and I was still fairly obsessed with Freddy Krueger. Perhaps there’s just something striking about these horror characters that lends themselves to being nightmare fodder for kiddies who aren’t even yet watching the flicks from whence they came. Still, these struck me as so odd, I had to have ’em.