Archive for December, 2008

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Sketchblog: Scroogletor

Blog: December 30th, 2008

xmas_2_and_1_skelescroogeOkay, maybe it took longer than 25 days, but here it is, the ending to the Holiday sketchblog!

That said, I really wasn’t planing to build up to a big spectacular ending on the blog. The original plan was to align each post with what special was airing on TV at the time. Still, people wanted to know what would end up as #1.

On one hand, the top slot should perhaps go to Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol. Like the Nostalgia Critic says, it doesn’t matter which version, they’re all good. Whether it’s Mister Magoo, or the Muppets, or Bill Murray, or Captain Picard, it’s required viewing to catch one version during the holidays.

On the other hand, this is not a top 25 list. Last thing I want to do is be taken seriously, so here’s Skeletor from the He-Man She-Ra Christmas Spectacular. We had a bunch of people over last week to watch retro holiday specials, and this one came up. Not being much of a He-Man fan (almost-but-not-quite my generation) it was hilarious to watch for the first time ever. They make no effort to disguise the fact it’s a 60 minute commercial for He-Man toys, even going so far as to bash their direct toy competitors, the Transformers. And yet, this is the decade I grew up with on Saturday mornings… can’t help but love it.

So here we have a timeless classic of literature, and an animated piece of 80s pop-culture cheese. If that doesn’t sum up this holiday sketchblog, I dunno what does. I’ll leave you to decide which one of the two gets the #1 slot.

Sketchblog: Jack Frost

Blog: December 25th, 2008

xmas_3_jackfrostOkay Rankin, okay Bass, you gotta explain this to me. Is Jack Frost a good guy or a bad guy? In one special he’s trying to melt Frosty and his snow-wife, but in another he’s saving the village from the evil Cossack Kubla Kraus.

Drat, that’s the one who I should have drawn! The bad guy with the little robot/puppet sidekick. Oh well, missed the mark on that one.

Sketchblog: The Polar Express

Blog: December 25th, 2008

xmas_4_polarI feel like there needs to be an award higher than Caldecott for Chris Van Allsburg’s Polar Express. The book is a Classic with a captial C; probably the only Christmas tale made within the last 20 years that can make such a claim.

Yes, this sketch is from the movie version. I’m on the fence with it, honestly. Some people really, really detest the movie for the uncanny valley children or for stretching the simple story into a 90 minute thrill ride. I thought it was just okay. The impact of the ending still holds up, and there’s some really beautiful scenes that feel like they’re right outta the book.

Although Mandark’s voice does get on the nerves after a while.

Sketchblog: Pee Wee’s Playhouse

Blog: December 25th, 2008

xmas_5_peeweeYup, they had a Christmas special, too. And it was so crazy I swore I imagined the whole thing. Everyone from Oprah to Annette Funicello to Charo was on the show, making for one surreal piece of holiday nostalgia. Definitely worth seeking out on YouTube.

Pee Wee was a great show to grow up with on Saturday Mornings. A kid simply could not be bored with the show. If the action ever started to drag on in the foreground, there was so much going on in the background of every shot that the whole show was like a big “hidden pictures” game. Hey look back there, the floor has eyes and a mouth!

Sketchblog: Harry and Marv

Blog: December 23rd, 2008

xmas_6_harryandmarvFor my generation, Home Alone was our It’s a Wonderful Life.

You could not escape this movie when it came out. Macaulay Culkin’s face was plastered everywhere, from lunch boxes to Nintendo games to Pogs, you name it. Every kids movie from that point forward was a desperate attempt to ape Home Alone’s formula, mostly with disastrous results.

I watched it again for the first time in years, half expecting it to be America’s Funniest Home Videos: The Movie. But there’s some solid comedy in there: Kevin’s checkout aisle banter, the yuppie McCallisters’ antics, and John Candy’s cameo still crack me up.

Then again, I laugh every time that tarantula gets placed on Marv’s face. Keep da change, ya filthy animal.

Sketchblog: Old Man Marley

Blog: December 22nd, 2008

xmas_7_homealone
Oh Kevin. Why must you live on the same block as the South Bend Shovel Slayer?

Say what you will about Home Alone, but it sure nails the childhood fears head-on. I don’t think any kid likes being in the same basement as a monster furnace rumbling to life. Same goes with the spooky old neighbor on the block. Sure he turns out to be a good guy, but that creepy dead-eye stare would give Joe Pesci nightmares.

Sketchblog: Olive the Other Reindeer

Blog: December 18th, 2008

xmas_8_oliveApologies to J Otto for aping his style. Actually, it was fun to do something totally different. I did an homage to Olive last year in the snow globe, and was waiting for an excuse to try the cutout style again. Turned out pretty close to the real deal.

Olive the Other Reindeer was great. One of the few specials in the last decade worth seeing more than once. The animated version was created by Simpsons and Futurama alums, so while there’s no drunken robots or Kwik-E-Mart shopkeepers, you do get a kleptomaniac penguin and an irate postal worker. Think you can still catch this on Cartoon Network every now and then, so if you’re a fan of Groening, it’s worth hunting down.

Sketchblog: Nightmare Before Christmas

Blog: December 18th, 2008

Sally and JackSee, everyone forgets the Christmas part of The Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s an equally Halloweeny, Christmassy film. But do they ever show this between Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life? Nooooo.

Actually, I’ve only recently seen the film. It’s good! So the legend goes, Tim Burton was inspired by the sight of a department store, midway between taking Halloween decorations down and putting Christmas decorations up. See, there’s a good side to commercialism to the holiday.