Sunday, October 30, 2005

♫ Halloween Apples! ♫

I love Halloween. Always have. Cool costumes, dark decorations, mysterious movies, and creepy activities make this one of the most fun times of year! So, in keeping with the Halloween 'spirit,' here's some spook-tacular treatsll!

2005 Star Wars Mask Screenshot
Images © Lucasfilm 2005.


In addition to the Star Wars paper masks I blogged about last Halloween, has posted a new set of masks for you to print, cut out, and wear. This year's masks feature characters from 'Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith' including Kit Fisto, Yoda, Aayla Secura, Tion Medon, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, R2-D2, General Greivous, C-3PO, 3 clone troopers, Padme Amidala, The Emperor, Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the Boga.

Darth Vader Pumpkin Template Small The site also features a tutorial for home-made Star Wars treat bags at this link.

For Jack O'Lantern patterns, Star Wars Kids also features fun intergalactic designs ranging from a simple Rebel Insignia to a complex Tusken Raider. Paste them on your pumpkins and start carving your galactic affiliation!


Michael Fleming has been posting an insane amount of links to obscure but fantastic Halloween-themed MP3 music files on his blog. Unfortunately, the process is slightly complex but it's definitely worth it to hear some great music! Especially noteworthy are Bing Crosby's 'The Headless Horseman,' Vaughn Monroe's '(Ghost) Riders in the Sky,' Ronnie Dawson's 'Rockin' Bones,' 'Watusi Zombie' by Jan Davis, and 'King Kong' by Tarantula Ghoul and the Cryptkickers.

A few more obscure songs that fit the Halloween mood can be found at this link on WFMU's Beware of the Blog. 'Parade of the Damned' features the cool 'Bo Meets the Monster' by Bo Diddley and Messer Chups' 'Intro Monstro Crescendo' among other hip tunes.

Where Are You Scooby Doo Screenshot
Image courtesy of The Scooby Doo Case Files.

Halloween without everybody's favorite canine sleuth and his gang, Mysteries, Inc.? No way! 'Scooby Doo, Where Are You!' is still considered one of the finest animated series. From spooky storylines to eerie locations with evocative background art, the show still outshines some of today's top cartoons.

The Scooby Doo Case Files website has posted links to the hip 'Scooby Doo themes,' including unreleased symphonic score tracks from the show. A real treasure, Ted Nichol's compositions are not to be missed! Delve into the site to discover episode summaries, imcompetent sheriffs, avatars for the Internet, and an index of monsters with roll-over images revealing their true identities! Be sure not to miss a section I savored, Wallpapers, which features a ton of outstanding animation background designs from the show!

The Hilarious House of Frightenstein Screenshots
Images courtesy of Ben Kane.

Some readers will probably remember 'The Hilarious House of Frightenstein,' a 1970's Canadian TV variety show featuring some of our favorite monsters. Wth the legendary Vincent Price and Billy Van, the show had some truly enjoyable moments featuring Count Frightenstein, Igor, Grizelda, the Librarian, Wolfman, the Oracle, and others. I remember being particularly fascinated by the set design, cinematography, effects, and music. 'March of the Martians,' the memorable theme from the show, (created with the famous Moog Synthesizer) can be found among the other goodies on the Frightenstein Downloads page. Be sure to snoop around the incredible tribute website for show info, music, video clips, and even a 'Return to Transylvania' documentary!

Of course, no Halloween should go without a visit from Jack Skellington or a giant robot!


Photo from Old Haunts BlogKeith Milford's blog, Old Haunts, collects "Halloween photos of long past," marketing material, greeting and trading card art, and even music and audio stories from old vinyl LPs. The bonus audio downloads 'Alfred Hitchcock presents Ghost Stories for Young People,' 'Casper the Friendly Ghost Haunted House Tales,' 'Sounds of Terror!' and others let your ears enjoy a Halloween chill! I have no doubt that you'll recognize some of the costumes and relive childhood 'trick or treat' memories.

Jay Stephens Tutenstein - Animated Version ImageCheck out Jay Stephen's blog, Monsterama for some amazing illustrations and creative monster lore. Described as a place to see 'cute creeps from popular culture,' the new blog is already loaded with great images by Jay. Along with artwork, you'll discover brief histories of characters like Casper the Friendly Ghost, Gossamer, Fangface, and others.

Jay, a Canadian with a great sense of design, is the creator of 'Jetcat,' 'The Land of Nod,' and 'Tutenstein,' all of which I highly recommend. He's also a regular contributor to Drawn!, a blog that provides insight and links about illustrators around the globe. Some of the links in this post were found at the blog.

Project Gutenberg has online text versions of 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow' by Washington Irving. Available in both HTML and Plain Text formats, this is the original tale that has spawned numerous film versions. No Halloween celebration is complete without a reading or viewing of this great story! Download 'Dracula' by Bram Stoker or 'Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley as well!

Photo of The Mechanical Bat Paper ToyRavensBlight features a fun collection of Haunted Paper Toys including The Mechanical Bat, Coffin Gift Boxes, the Splatterbot, and more; all courtesy of artist Ray O'Bannon. With paper (preferably heavy cardstock), scissors, an X-Acto knife, glue, and tape, you'll be able put together these morbid masterpieces. To download and print the files, you'll need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.

retroCRUSH, "the world's greatest Halloween website," is a must-see for any pop culture and Halloween fan. The vast archive of images, audio, and text will devour hours of your time. Check out "the world's greatest Halloween costumes" with photos of many vinyl and plastic costumes from yesterday and today. I know I've certainly worn a few! Marvel at the Top 100 Monsters of All Time! Note: Not all portions of the website are safe for younger children or work viewing.

Monster Party Font Sample

Open your goody bag to find the MonsterParty font by Michael Gaines (use the caps lock key with it) or the many other horror fonts that await your experiments!

Halloween Icons Screenshot

How about some great icon sets such as Vintage Halloween, Creeps, Boo Buddies, Macabre, Snappy Hour Halloween, and Cute Dead Icons. You may also enjoy Haunted Hard Drives, Ravenswood Revisted, World of Aqua - After Dark, and Jack Skellington.

Oh yeah...if you can't find a real pumpkin to about a digital one? Thanks Tad!

Well, that's a bowl full of treats from me! How do you like them apples?!


Sunday, October 23, 2005

One Year of Blogging

Well, as of October 15th, it's been one year since I started blogging.

As most of you know, I also contribute to 3 other blogs: The Alberta Movie Guide, Luxo: A Pixar Blog, and Palaeoblog, all of which take a good deal of time.

Why do I do it? Aside from sharing things I find of interest, working on the blogs lets readers know what I'm up to, helps me meet new people, hones my writing skills, generates possible work opportunities, and provides a forum to work on my ideas 'out loud.'

The first posting on the Digital Dream Machine blog dealt with the death of Christopher Reeve and his role as Superman, so I thought it would be a fitting tribute to do something related to 'The Man of Steel.'

Looking around my archives, I found this old 'Superman' promotional poster....

The Fortress of Solitude Travel Poster by Chad Kerychuk

Actually, this wasn't ever produced for consumers. This week, I decided to dust off my WACOM Graphics Tablet and Pen, get my illustration skills back into shape, and create an original digital image.

Between the paperwork, documentary editing, motion graphics design, and blogging, I haven't had much time to just 'sit and draw.' So I forced myself (yes, artists have to do that occasionally) to flesh out an idea I had kicking around my brain. Influenced by Jeremy Vanhoozer's fantastic 'Medusa' image (definitely check out his blog and website!), I intended to create a digital painting of Superman's Fortress of Solitude realized in the style of 1950's-era travel poster. Overall, I'm pretty happy with this image, and there's things I'd change if I continued working on it; however, for a piece that's meant as practice, I feel it's finished (for now) and ready for show.

The last illustration I remember working on was a 10th Anniversary of Hellboy tribute for the 2004 San Diego Comic-Con Souvenir Book. Like the fictional poster above, the 'Hellboy' piece took a great deal of time, and demonstrates why I don't turn out art as often as I used to. I really want to put my best effort into my work, and unless I can contribute the time to something, I won't take it on until I feel ready.

Even with all the digital technology I'm surrounded by, I really do miss the days of traditional sketching and painting for hours on end. Whether it was at high school in my art studio, or at home watching a James Cameron flick, I usually had my sketchbook or drawing board nearby. From icon roughs to logo mock-ups to character designs, my art skills were constantly being focused and my ideas became solidified on paper. All I had to do was find a page, grab a pencil, and start drawing.

The WACOM Graphics Tablet allows artists like myself to create images digitally. An input device shaped much like a traditional pen, glides along the pressure-senstive tablet, responding to our hand movements as if we were sketching with a pencil or even painting with a brush. Since the artwork is created on a computer, we have the benefit of being able to 'undo' our mistakes a little more easily and make revisions without affecting the original. The method isn't perfect, and it's not meant as a replacement for creating art 'the old fashioned way,' but it sure does let us do some pretty amazing things.

I've got some ideas for other images, so hopefully I'll find the time to create and share them with all of you. In the meantime, thanks for supporting the blogs and the effort I put into them! Here's a toast to one year of blogging, with potentially many more to come!

As a bonus, below is my Fortress of Solitude Travel Poster as if it had been printed yesterday. Enjoy!

The Fortress of Solitude Travel Poster by Chad Kerychuk

If you're interested in seeing a larger-size version, please e-mail me.

'Superman' and 'The Fortress of Solitude' are ™ and © DC Comics.

Friday, October 14, 2005

'Sand Pirates of the Sahara'

Thought I'd share this fun old movie poster image...

Poster for Sand Pirates of the Sahara

As some of you are probably already aware, Sand Pirates of the Sahara was not an actual feature film. It was sort of a mini-movie produced for use in Frank Darabont's underrated 2001 film, The Majestic. "Brett Armstrong" is really cult-film favorite, actor Bruce Campbell, known mostly for his role as 'Ash' in the Evil Dead movies.

The sequences that were shot for Sand Pirates of the Sahara can be seen on the bonus features section of The Majestic DVD. It's a campy, but definitely fun throwback to the adventure films of the 1900's. Though the pseudo-film was a nice homage to the George Lucas and Steven Spielberg blockbuster, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, Darabont actually has ties to the whip-wielding character, having worked as a writer on 'The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.'

Careful viewers will notice that a certain golden idol from the Indiana Jones series makes an appearance in the movie. It's even illustrated in the poster near the bottom right corner.

For more information about adventure films, check out this link.

Image courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Jim Carrey Online.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Fire Destroys 'Wallace and Gromit' Warehouse

Photo of Wallace and Gromit
The much-loved inventor Wallace and canine companion, Gromit.

Sadly, a fire has destroyed the warehouse of Aardman Animations in Bristol, west England early this morning and claimed much of its animation past.

Thankfully nobody was in the building, but most of the company's history has been lost. Sets and props from 'Chicken Run' and the first 'Wallace and Gromit' shorts are believed to have been consumed by the fire. CNN had this to report:
"Today was supposed to be a day of celebration, with the news that 'Wallace and Gromit' had gone in at No. 1 at the U.S. box office, but instead our whole history has been wiped out," Aardman spokesman Arthur Sheriff said. "It's turned out to be a terrible day."

Sheriff said the warehouse contained sets, props and models from the company's productions, from the children's cartoon character "Morph" through the Oscar-winning, anthropomorphic "Creature Comforts" series to the Wallace and Gromit films.

Wallace and Gromit's creator, Nick Park, said the earthquake in South Asia helped put the loss into perspective.

"Even though it is a precious and nostalgic collection and valuable to the company, in light of other tragedies, today isn't a big deal," he said.

You can read more at the CNN article and Bloomberg U.K. site at this link.

Word also comes from BBC News that all is not lost...
"I'm pleased to say Nick Park's original 'A Grand Day' out rocket, that he built by hand, is safe and sound," Mr. Sproxton [company co-founder] says. "It's very close to him."

Park's three Oscars for Wallace and Gromit and Creature Comforts were also elsewhere.

The clay characters themselves are not kept after filming because they disintegrate, and the Aardman film studio is in a different part of the city and so is unscathed.

The original film and negatives are stored in a humidity-controlled vault at a different location and the sets from the current Wallace and Gromit feature film, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, were also elsewhere.

and regarding the studio's future...
Although the company's history may have gone up in smoke, its future is still looking rosy.

"The fire doesn't really affect future productions because even the Wallace and Gromit sets tend to be built almost from scratch for each film that we do," Mr. Sproxton says.

My best wishes to the entire animation studio and staff in recovering from this disaster. Now get out there and see 'Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit' at your local theater!

As a note of interest: Not only did the studio create award-winning shorts and feature films, but also the much celebrated 'Sledgehammer' video for musician Peter Gabriel. Find more of their history at the official website.

Update: December 11, 2005 - The Big Cartoon Forum has posted an article on the cause of the blaze. It's believed that the fire was started by an electrical fault with an appliance.

Image courtesy of Aardman Animation Studios.

More Tortoise Photos

I've been receiving lots of kind feedback regarding the story, writing, and photography of the Franklin the Tortoise post. A big thanks for your support! Along with the comments, photos of other shelled pets have found their way into my e-mail box, so I thought I'd share them with all you tortoise fans.

Photo of Sam and Ella the tortoises
3-year-olds Sam (Sulcata) and Ella (Box Turtle) enjoying some tomatoes. Photo from Lori.

Photo of Nicholas the tortoise
Nicholas in the office. 43 lbs. 10 years old. Photo from Kerry.

Another photo of Nicholas the tortoise
Nicholas napping. Photo from Kerry.

Another photo of Nicholas the tortoise
Stanley and Nicholas. Best of friends. Photo from Kerry.

Another photo of Nicholas the tortoise
Morning Nicholas. Photo from Kerry.

Another photo of Nicholas the tortoise
Nicholas takes a bath. Photo from Kerry.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Life is about the people you meet.

Screenshot of Tortoise walking story

Thanks to friends and the post at, I've watched the hit count on this blog soar. Many thanks from me to all the linkers and readers! I hope I can continue to bring you interesting things to read and see.

One of the purposes I had in mind when I started this personal blog was to talk about subjects that interest me, including people and places near and far. I've always found that one of the most important ingredients in life is the people we meet and that any other benefit is secondary. I've based a good deal of my personal and business decisions on the people I have a chance to work with and who I feel can really bring something positive or challenging to the relationship. Sometimes it becomes a lasting friendship, other times they become excellent contacts for projects, and still other people bring that one bit of wisdom to your life that allows you to progress on a personal or professional level.

Rushing to and from work, or the shopping malls and restaurants, the little gems of stories might not surface if we don't stop to talk to some of the more interesting people around us. Tragedies in life teach us that people can be gone in an instant and we should take every opportunity to meet the souls who make up our world. You may not get that second chance to talk to that girl at the bus stop, that artist you've watched sketching at the coffee shop, or the guy walking down the street with his pet tortoise.

The story I posted on Franklin the tortoise and his caretaker Jeff has helped one more interesting individual be introduced to the rest of the world. I had seen Jeff walking Franklin previously, slowed down to look, but then drove on. So when I saw him again the day I posted the story, I wasn't about to pass up this second chance to meet him. Little did I know that others would also find the story of interest.

When people enjoy our tales, they'll want to share them with friends and family, just as they would do when gathering around a crackling, summer campfire. The Internet, and blogs specifically, offer us a way have our own 'digital campfires' and regale our readers with our own thoughts, tales, and brilliant ideas. Often the stories are driven by themes but during other moments they're completely random. Sort of like this blog, which serves a collection of my varied interests.

Of all the items I've discussed on here, I had no idea that the one of the most read postings to date would be about a man taking his tortoise for a walk. In addition to that, stop-motion animation, the Muppets, and movies have all proved popular reading material for visitors. Evidently, I've found topics that people enjoy and I'm pleased to be able to share my thoughts on them.

Through Luxo, a Pixar blog I collaborate on with my friend Ken Bautista, I was asked by a reader to contribute opinions for a magazine article about the animation studio. The Alberta Movie Guide has provided a venue for readers to inquire about the provincial film industry, and recently I received an invitiation to submit photos of the tortoise and his caretaker to the Greek edition of FHM Magazine. In the past few hours, I've also discovered that the Franklin story was featured on's Tech News & Web Guide.

Screenshot of USA Today Tortoise walking story

Even with my limited contributions to the Palaeoblog, edited by Dr. Michael Ryan, I've been fortunate enough to share my interest in dinosaurs and meet like-minded individuals. Not only has it allowed me to discuss the latest palaeontological discoveries or newest video games, films, and comics showcasing the giant beasts, but it's also directed visitors back to this site to learn about my other adorations.

Contributing to these blogs takes a tremendous amount of time but I truly enjoy all the various subjects I'm able to talk about. More importantly, and back to my initial statement, life is about the people you meet and I'm constantly fascinated by those I encounter. If these links from other blogs, websites, magazines, and papers help me meet new people and put a smile on our faces, then I believe I'm doing something right.

Thanks for all your support!

A big 'thank you' also goes to my wife who continues to indulge my many creative passions including writing for these blogs. She's easily one of the most important people I've met yet!