MissyMToyz Custom Toys @ San Diego Comic Con

Archangel front view


Comic Con is hitting San Diego this week and MissyMToyz, a designer toy artist we met recently at KidRobot SF, is heading down there with her line of custom toys. She sent us some info and pics of what she’s featuring at her very first SDCC so let’s take a look. She’s making available Archangels that are hand beaded 3” custom munnys with angel wings on their back and they come in black, silver, and rose gold. Only four of each color will be available during the show and they go for $38 for one or $100 for all three. Plus, she will be taking custom color orders of these at the con.

Lil Buddha front view

Lil Buddha

Lil Buddha is a 6” poly resin piece with a limited run of 500 and each Buddha is hand-signed with its own hand-numbered box. She also mentioned that Lil Buddha’s hands represent “no fear”, the large ears represent wisdom, and the long earlobes represent longevity. Lil Buddha will have a special $138 SDCC price (the original price is $168).

Sock Monkey

Sock Monkey

Sock Monkey is a 3” dunny turned into a sock monkey which has had an ear bit off by a dog. Sock Monkey was originally made for a dog charity event, Dunny for Dogs, which will be held at KidRobot SF. Each piece is hand painted with real button eyes, yarn hair, and the bit-off-ear is made from stuffing a dog toy. Only six will be available at SDCC for purchase at a price of $50.

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Reading Songs That Saved Your Life: The Art of the Smiths 1982 – 87

Songs That Saved Your Life

It all started with my brother. I was just a kid in the 1980’s and most of my musical knowledge at that time sprouted from my older brother’s record collection. An album he absolutely cherished in late 1986 was The Queen is Dead by The Smiths, who I’ve heard of earlier when he purchased their previous album Meat is Murder. I didn’t pay any mind to Meat is Murder since I foolishly passed it off as another group in his British collection – like another Duran Duran or maybe similar to Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. Boy was I dead wrong.

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Interview with Peter Cushing: A Life in Film Author David Miller

Peter Cushing Life in Film

To most in the U.S., Peter Cushing is not a household name. If presented a picture of Peter, one might recognize him as the main villain in the original Star Wars. Though to film buffs, Hammer Film fans, and to many in the U.K. and Europe, he is known as the brilliant and unforgettable English actor, with a career spanning 45 plus years, while playing a wide variety of characters from Dr. Van Helsing to Baron Frankenstein to Sherlock Holmes to Doctor Who. Author David Miller grew up in Britain as a fan of Cushing and, through his diligent and detailed research, we are presented with the authoritative guide to the actor’s career – Peter Cushing: A Life in Film. We are honored to get the chance to ask David Miller a number of questions on the amount of research it took for this biography, some of his favorite Cushing movies and characters, and to share with us a few memories on the devoted actor.

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Bowie Beau Oui: The Complete David Bowie

Complete David Bowie

When this book came across our desk, I jumped at the chance at reviewing this. Having grown up in the 1980’s, I lived through Bowie’s commercially successful Let’s Dance years but soon found out that there was much more to the singer than the very popular “Modern Love” and “China Girl” that were dominating radio stations and MTV at the time. What was at first just my curiosity into what he did in the decades before, blossomed into a lifelong infatuation with one of the best and most innovative musicians of all time. Since then, I’ve meticulously listened through past albums and singles; from the excellent glam rock classic The Man Who Sold The World, through his iconic Ziggy Stardust and Thin White Duke years, to the Berlin trilogy in the late 70’s.

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The Bay Lights Art Installation

Bay LightsBeing a native San Franciscan, we figure out at a young age that of the two Bay Area bridges, the Golden Gate Bridge is the prominent and celebrated actor while the SF-Oakland Bay Bridge is the sturdy understudy. Well the time has finally come for the Bay Bridge to step into the limelight with an ambitious, privately-funded art installation called “The Bay Lights.” Consisting of 25,000 LED Lights while measuring 1.8 miles wide and 500 feet high, it is currently the world’s largest LED light sculpture. Each night for the next two years from dusk to 2 a.m., the lights are individually programmed to show a random flow of lights as if shadows are floating to and fro between the towers.

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Interview with Ghostbot Co-Founder and Animator Alan Lau

Sly Cooper Promo Art

As promised in last Friday’s Catching up with Animation Studio Ghostbot, we wanted to share with our readers an interview with one of the lead creative brains behind the studio – Ghostbot Co-Founder and Animator Alan Lau. A fan of Japanese Anime and an active gamer, he’s worked for several esteemed studios in the past such as Wild Brain, Laika, and Madhouse. His ability to seamlessly integrate captivating 2D animation to each and every project is what stands out when looking at all his works en masse.

For Ghostbot, their most recent project was working on every 2D cinematic for the new Sly Cooper video game out now on the PS3 titled Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time. I’ve seen the game in action and it’s great to see them keep the charm of the original Sly games intact while pushing the quality of the game art to higher levels. Recently,we had the good fortune to sit down with Alan and find out what other video game projects the company has worked on, what his reaction was on getting the opportunity to work on such a beloved franchise, and the amount of pressure they put on themselves to get the character attributes just right.

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Catching up with Animation Studio Ghostbot

SLY_PromoArt01Since we reside in the San Francisco Bay Area, we bump into a number of devoted and talented local artists who are not afraid of working together to come up with very creative original content. One such group is Ghostbot, a small, but experienced, animation studio that has set up camp on the outskirts of San Francisco. Founded in 2004 by three young animators, they work tirelessly on a multitude of mediums, ranging from TV commercials to short films on the web to video games. With a deliberate and unique 2D style mixing pop sensibilities and cartoon art, they’ve produced and have worked on many projects that you may recognize, such as the Erin Esurance ad campaign and the painfully cute Happy Tree Friends animated series to name a few.

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Disney Animated Short Film – Paperman

To expand on Stephen’s viral video from yesterday, here’s the Full Animated Short titled Paperman. Set in the 1940’s, it’s about a missed connection and a young man’s attempt to get the attention of a young woman through the help of paper airplanes.  Directed by John Kahrs and Executive Produced by John Lasseter of Pixar fame, this six and a half minute film was first shown with the theatrical release of Wreck-It Ralph plus it has been nominated for Best Animated Short Film for this year’s Academy Awards. This group did a remarkable job blending 2D animation with CG and kudos to Disney for showing that they can still produce such a heartfelt animated short, for all the romantics out there, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Interview with Author and Steampunk Pioneer James P. Blaylock


By now, most sci-fi and fantasy fans are familiar with the Steampunk genre, where works of fiction and art are placed in a world that features steam powered machinery and is often set in the time of Victorian-era England. In the last twenty years, we’re amazed to see how far and how creative “Steampunk culture” has pushed itself in various media, especially in literature, films, and fashion design. Though many recent fans could not even begin to explain how this genre had started out – how authors, screenwriters, and artists influenced by Jules Verne’s Voyages Extraordinaires and H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine created several whimsical and fantastic works in the 1960’s and 70’s. This then opened the door for three young authors, who were friends from the same college and were all mentored by the legendary novelist Philip K. Dick, to write their brand of Victoriana and eventually becoming, unbeknownst at the time, the pioneers of Steampunk.

Recently, we had the good fortune to have a chat with one of the pioneers, the talented James P. Blaylock, who is releasing a new Steampunk novel in his Langdon St. Ives/Narbondo series titled The Aylesford Skull published by Titan Books. It’s been twenty years since the last full novel in the series and we find out why it took that long for the book to be published, what sort of research goes into writing Victoriana, and his opinion on modern Steampunk culture.

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Interview with Anno Dracula Author Kim Newman

Critically acclaimed novelist Kim Newman is well known, not only for writing great storylines, but also blending together a wonderfully imaginative cast of characters for his books. For Dracula Cha Cha Cha, the third book in his Anno Dracula series, you’ll see all of this in full view in a world intertwined with fictional characters and real people in history, such as Ernest Hemingway, Michael Corleone, Audrey Hepburn, and Tintin. Mix them into 1959 Rome where Count Dracula is set to marry the Princess of Moldavia and what you get is a fun read for fans of horror, fiction, and parallel worlds.

Today, we’re honored to have author Kim Newman to take the time out and answer questions on the reissue of the Anno Dracula books, who his primary influences, and what we can expect in Johnny Alucard, the fourth book of the series.

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Interview with The Great Showdowns Artist Scott Campbell

Scott Campbell (known professionally as Scott C.) is an American painter and illustrator who also works as Art Director for the brilliant game development studio Double Fine Productions. We recently got the opportunity to ask him a few questions about his wonderful new book The Great Showdowns – a collection of his 130+ paintings showcasing the greatest confrontations in film, where we find out how his love of movies has influenced his life, which one showdown would “rule them all,”  and just how awesome Neil Patrick Harris is.


RTNDR:  The Great Showdowns has over 130+ film-inspired paintings and you seem to be a serious fan of cinema and the confrontations presented within them – so have you watched all of these films in their entirety and what is it about these struggles that lead you to draw them?

Scott C:  I have seen all of the films in the book and almost all the films on the site, but i must confess that there are a few that i skimmed.  There were some that i recognized as culturally significant, but just never felt like watching them. Heh heh. But there were always moments that stuck with me through the years, even if just moments from the TV ads!  But pretty much most of them i have seen through my many years of existence.  But most people have seen as much as i have, i have just started painting them all.  I do absolutely love watching films though.  They have influenced every part of my life since i was a kid from the clothes that i wore to the jokes that came out of my mouth.  When i was younger, my favorite films were a part of my identity.  And struggles are something we can all identify with, whether it is struggling with an enemy or struggling with a menu to figure out what the heck dish to order.  There are so many moments that have stuck with me through the years and it is crazy how much nostalgia just floods back when I go back and watch those films.  I love exploring those moments and i love assembling them into an epic mix tape of great film moments.

RTNDR:  There are many more Showdown paintings on your website, GreatShowdowns.com, but we wanted to know how did you decide which paintings would be included in this art book?

Scott C:  The  book collects my favorite of the first big chunk of them.  Some of the more obscure ones we did not include in the book.  We have obscure ones in there for sure, but we tried to choose ones that would be most enjoyable for everyone to figure out. With plenty of good obscure ones though, don’t worry. The project is ongoing, so there are plenty for more books in the future!

RTNDR:  Our editors’ favorite 80’s movie is Top Gun and they tried looking for a Top Gun showdown in the book to no avail – that got us to asking were there movies that you really wanted to draw for but thought that it just might not work? Did you consider painting TV series-inspired showdowns?

Scott C:  I’ve done Top Gun twice!  But maybe i wasn’t into how they turned out enough to include them in the book.  I know that the most recent one was made too late for the book, the volleyball scene.   The first one was Maverick versus Iceman.  But anyway, there are for sure showdowns that i havent figure out how to make yet.  I really want to do a Memento showdown, but i want to do him with his shirt off and all his tattoos and i can’t figure out what he would be showing down with. Some movies aren’t unique enough for me to find good visual elements to work with, like war movies or westerns.  I have done TV shows and video games for special events.  Like that LOST event that happened at Gallery 1988 a few years back. But for the Great Showdowns site, i am sticking to films.  That is my rule for now!  Just because you have to have rules and I’d be opening a huge can of worms with TV shows that i am not ready to open just yet.

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Cartoon Network Celebrates 20 Years!

Happy Birthday Cartoon Network! Since 1992, you have some of the most imaginative television programs around such as The Powerpuff Girls, Samurai Jack, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, to current faves – Adventure Time and The Amazing World of Gumball plus countless others. We look forward to seeing 20+ more years of great cartoons and shows! Congrats CN!

For more info on the network or to check out their current schedule of shows check out their home page – Cartoon Network.

Interview with Resident Evil: Retribution Author John Shirley

residentevilmoviebookA few weeks ago, the 5th film installment of the Resident Evil franchise opened in theaters plus the Resident Evil 6 video game will be released on October 2, 2012.  For fans who can’t get enough of Resident Evil, a book adaptation of Resident Evil: Retribution has also been released through Titan Books written by cyberpunk/sci-fi author John Shirley.  The book will showcase Alice and her team as they fight the powerful Umbrella Corporation and the deadly T-virus that has taken over the world.  We had the opportunity to ask the prolific writer a few questions where we discuss his favorite authors, recommended readings, and Milla Jovovich.


RTNDR:  Before Titan Books had approached you to work on the Resident Evil: Retribution novelization, were you familiar with the franchise? Was there anything specific in the Resident Evil world, such as the characters or maybe the mix of horror and science fiction, that drew you to this project?

John Shirley:  I like writing novelizations, now and then, it’s fun to do, not terribly difficult for me since I have written scripts (eg, THE CROW) so I grasp pretty well what the scriptwriter intends visually. Certainly, horror novelizations are fun. And the novelization job gave me an excuse to watch all the Resident Evil movies, in preparation, which, in turn, gave me an excuse to watch the beautiful, scantily clad Milla Jovovich for hour after hour. Milla of course plays the main hero in Resident Evil, Alice. So how can I complain about that gig?

RTNDR:  You’ve also written both the Doom and Constantine film novelizations, so we were wondering, what is your process or how did you go about writing movie novelizations? Do you get a script of the movie beforehand or maybe even get to preview the film? Also, is there a lot of interaction between you and the film company?

John Shirley:  I get a script yes, but these days they are very close with their DVD previews because they don’t want them to be leaked on the internet … not that I would ever do that. As a scriptwriter myself, I’m not a fan of movie piracy . . .

They send me the shooting script and *usually* it’s the true shooting script, the final-final, but I remember with Doom they changed it anyway when I was well into the novelization so I had to rewrite it. But that’s all part of the business. And some interaction with the film company may be part of novelizing, but usually there is an intermediary at the publisher. They forward any questions I may have. I try to familiarize myself with the franchise, so I don’t have too many questions. Nowadays there are “wikis” that give a lot of information, so I rely on the fans who organize those too. They’re usually accurate. But in the case of Doom I had played all the games and related games already; in the case of Constantine I was aware of the John Constantine (Hellblazer) comics. The movie diverged from the comics but the character was pretty close in a lot of ways. Of course, Keanu Reaves’ character was American, not British as the original John Constantine was. I later wrote a couple of John Constantine: Hellblazer novels for Pocket Books. You can still find them on Amazon … and those I based purely on the comic books. It’s the British John Constantine. So I’ve “novelized” two separate versions of the character John Constantine. And in one of the books I explain (somewhat humorously) the discrepancy between them, in an indirect way.

I work from the script by visualizing scenes and then turning them into prose, but also — especially with an action-oriented story like Resident Evil — I have to flesh it out, create some new characters, get into new point of views, find ways to explore the back stories of the main characters without contradicting what we know about them. It can be tricky. I always work to flesh the story out “organically”, so it’s all of a piece and natural and creatively done, rather than “padding” it. That is, I do my very best to write the novel so everything is entertaining and creative, and not just something to fill out the book.

I sometimes order related book material — eg, I ordered a big book about Resident Evil, a sort of guidebook, to use as a source, but I had to be clear on the way the Resident Evil movies differ from the game Resident Evils. Fans of the games seem to really like the movies — but they’re aware that they’re not completely consistent in all their character histories, arc and so on with the games. It’s as if the games and films take place in parallel but separate universes. So I had to keep all that in mind …

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Soundtype Track 2 – Jamaica in Two Parts

Since this is Soundtype’s second post, why not write about two recent songs that just happen to have the same song title – and both are very,very catchy. First up is a band from London called Theme Park with their second single “Jamaica” which was released on August 20, 2012. The band consists of two brothers and two school friends and their indie-pop sound resembles another English group, Bombay Bicycle Club, which coincidentally, they’ve also toured with last year. The track has got that tropical, laid-back flavor and, with every listen, it just makes you want to fly to Mo Bay and get some rum.  Here is “Jamaica” by Theme Park:

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Soundtype Track 1 – Tunogo’s Remix of After The Fall’s “Don’t Feel”

We’re starting a new weekly blog series here on Retrenders called Soundtype where I’ll cover emerging artists or indie music that have recently hit my playlist. New music is an obsession of mine – just listening to new tracks takes up most of my day –  so it just made sense to write about and share with our audience which song or artist stood out that week.

Let’s start off the series with a remix from Tunogo, an LA based electronic music act helmed by Bass/EDM producer Jess Labb. She put together a nice dubstep/downtempo mix of After The Fall’s new single “Don’t Feel.” Here’s the track – After The Fall – Don’t Feel (Tunogo’s Benumb Remix):

If you like this, you can download the track for free (while it’s still available) or check out other tracks and EP’s by Tunogo on her Soundcloud page. Jess Labb is currently working on a follow up to the Intemperatus EP out on Sodio Recordings and you can find more info on Tunogo on their site – Tunogo.com

After The Fall (also hailing from Los Angeles) is releasing the “Don’t Feel” single later this month on September 25, and it includes this mix plus three others – here’s the teaser link for all the upcoming tracks.

Next week, I’ll highlight two recent remixes that just happen to share the same song title thus confusing me to no end as to which group sang what. See ya then!

T-Shirt Design: The Black Knight Rises

This mash-up needs to be a graphic tee! Oh wait, it is!

This is “The Black Knight Rises” by Nathan Davis aka obvian who hails from Melbourne, Australia. It puts the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail into one of this summer’s most recognizable movie posters. The result is a pretty bad-ass drawing.

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Drink: Happy *hiccup* Valentine’s Day!

What a wonderful gift! No no I’m not crying… I just have allergies.

Say your boyfriend/husband/random male lover got you nearly everything he was supposed to get you (dinner, chocolates, a new toaster – ok joking on this last one, I would NOT suggest giving kitchen appliances on V-Day unless you’re itching to go back to the single life). So what can you give back to the person who put so much effort to show you how much he loves ya?

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Hot Wheels Monster Track for a Good Cause


Thought this might interest all the Hot Wheels enthusiasts out there – this is 2000 feet of Hot Wheels track running through rooms, on the sidewalk, over a hot tub, and up some stairs.

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