If you want to know what this blog is all about, this page is my presentation of it. To directly access all my reviews in chronological order, go here.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

REVIEW: "The Right direction"

Open in another folder
to enlarge.

An obscure Brazilian Ludwig Von Drake one-pager ! How more obscure can you get ? Well, anyway.

Have I mentioned yet that I am a huge fan of Professor Ludwig Von Drake yet ? Yes I have, but I'll say it again. He is delightful. However, I always felt he was more suited for cartoons than for comics, since his fast-talking voice and his constantly-moving animation are a big part of the character's appeal. Never the less, the step of turning him into a comic character was taken by Taliaferro, and there he stayed. 

The gag I selected for you today was first published n 1981; its original name is Assim nāo dá, which I have no idea what it means, sadly. Its author is Verci de Mello, a pretty prolific Brazilian artist, if I.N.D.U.C.K.S. is to be believed.

In those first three panels, there is no dialogue at all, which I dunno, but it does kinda negates the point of having Ludwig Von Drake as your character. And when he does talk, it is neither with his trademark accent, fast-talkingness or kookiness. The only piece of characterization that this one-pager uses on Ludwig is that he is absent-minded. And that he is not in a particularly Ludwig-Von-Draky way.

However, I do appreciate De Mello's art on those panels; Ludwig's facial expressions and poses are genuinely funny. There are also bits of shading in those panels, especially the first one, which I really like. What I don't appreciate, though, is…

this guy. Have you ever seen anything more generic for a bystander in the street ? Bah. Usually, when the Ducks talk to a bystander, minor though he may be, the artist at least makes a little effort to give them a remotely interesting design. Well, the good artists usually do, that is. But De Mello seems like a good artist ! I'm not asking much, really. Just five him a moustache, or a bowler hat, or glasses, or red hair, or something that doesn't scream “I don't have time to draw this properly so let's just throw in a blank character traced from one of my old backgrounds”.

If nothing else, the punchline gives us a clue as to where Ludwig Von Drake lives. Talking of which… nah, I'll do another post about it. On another note, I like the look of the stunned Generic Bystander, although I wish it had been applied on a more interesting character design.

And yes, I do realize that I'm looking far deeper into this story than anyone on the planet, authors included, ever did. It was probably just a cheap one-pager ordered to fill a blank in an issue. But it's just my nature to review and nitpick about stuff.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

CARTOON: "Never think out loud!"

Hurra ! A second one ! This time in HQ; watch it in widescreen, it's worth it.

CARTOON: "Not the reaction he wanted"

        Remember how I've been babbling about how Kelly's comics often seem… animated ? Like something from a cartoon ? Well, it suddenly struck me that it would be perfectly possible to turn them into cartoons. So, I made a test, adapting "Not the reaction he wanted" into a 50-seconds long cartoon short. Here is the result; I did the voice characterization on the Hatbox Ghost (the credits list me as ScroogeMacDuck, which is my DeviantArt username). I hope you'll enjoy this as much as I enjoyed doing it. Please let me know in the comments if there's something you think I could do to improve for my next adaptation.

REVIEW: "Cadaverous Palettes"

Open this in another folder, so as
to enlarge it.
Open this in another folder, so as
to enlarge it.
Open this in another folder, so as
to enlarge it.

"Cadaverous Palettes" is not exactly part of the strip; I guess you could say it is a kind of Grand Finale to the strip series. It depicts various spooks of the Haunted Mansion, both those that have already appeared in the comics and others. Trying to review it as I'd do a story would be futile, but let it be told that it is awesomely done. Bravo bravo bravo. Now, I will give you something, though, in place of this review you won't have: I'm going to identify all the characters, and compare them to their Disneyland counterpart. There ! Happy ? 


The Ally Gal (Miss Lilly)

The Tightrope Walker, or Lilly the Ally Gal as she has come to be called by fans, is one of the characters from the Stretching Portraits gallery. 

Marc Davis's original painting of her was this:

But the replacement you can see today
in the Mansion is based on a redesign
by David Hall, that looks more like


The Hatchet Man (The Ghost Host)

The ominous but harmless narrator of the ride and master of the Mansion, already featured in countless previous strips. His look is based on the “Hatchet Man” portrait, which you'll remember looks like this:


The Organist (Thaddeus Morgan)

Thaddeus Morgan, better known as The Organist, plays the tune of “Grim Grinning Ghost” in loop, and can be heard throughout the Haunted Mansion. Already featured in the comics, but only once, in "Here there be ghosts".

In the concept arts, he looks like this:

In the actual ride, you don't actually see his face:

But there's this delightful merchandise item where you do:


The Hatbox Ghost (Hattie, H. B. Ghost, Thomas Hatter, or Huit B. Ghost)

The grumpy and creepy denizen of the Haunted Mansion's attic, the Hatbox Ghost is a slightly hunchbacked old skeleton dressed in ample black clothes whose head has a tendency to disappear from his shoulders to reappear in his hatbox. He has, of course, been a major character of the comic strip series. The portrait takes place after his return, hence why he is depicted with his new colors instead of his former black-and-grey suit.

In the actual attraction, he used to be like this:

The new animatronic that you can see today is similar,
albeit recolored:


Madame Leota (alive)

Madame Leota is a very powerful medium… or rather, that's what she was. Nowadays she's as much of a ghost as the other inhabitants of the Haunted Mansion, and her head now appears in her crystal ball. However, the addition to the Haunted Mansion of Madame Leota's tombstone, which includes her carved face, shows us what she looked like as a mere mortal. 

Here is the tombstone in question:


The Phantom (Henry Ravenswood)

The Phantom (whom you already saw in Tragic) is the main antagonist in the French Haunted Mansion, Phantom Manor. This evil formally-dressed skeleton forever torments the ghost of Mélanie Ravenswood, a longing bride whose groom he murdered. Kelly didn't use him much but makes up for it here by giving us two renditions of the Phantom.

Here is the chilling character as you can meet him in Disneyland:


The Phantom Manor Bride (Mélanie Ravenswood)

Speaking of which, guess who ? Mélanie, the tormented, tragic Bride. Kelly depicts her much more realistically than in Tragic and Impending Doom is Funny, I must note. 

Here is portrait of Mélanie seen in the real Phantom Manor ride.


Madame Leota (ghost form)

Madame Leota, as previously cited, is the medium of the House, here depicted as the disembodied-head-in-a-crystal-ball that you can see in the ride.

In the ride, she is supposed to look like this, but some versions of her
make her blue instead of green.


Aging Man/Foyer Guy (Master Dorian Gracey)

Either the Hatchet Man's brother or nephew, Master Dorian Gracey is seen in the Haunted Mansion on a changing portrait in the Foyer, where you progressively see him age and decay into a ghostly skeleton with a deathly stare. The first version is based on Step 2 of the aging process, the second on Step 1.

The original portrait, as I already showed you, is this:


The Dread twins (Wellington and Forsythia Dread)

A couple of murderous brats who belong to the cataclysmic Dread family (a family whose members kept killing each other until no one was left, and later moved to live on in the the Haunted Mansion as ghosts). Their busts are seen in the Walt Disney World Interactive Queue of the Haunted Mansion.

The original busts:


The Floating Candlestick

A ghost holds a Floating Chandelier in the Endless Hallway of the Haunted Mansion, forever wandering in corridors that seem to have no end or purpose. A similar effect is in play at Phantom Manor, where Mélanie (see upper) is revealed to be the one holding the chandelier.

Here is the Floating Candlestick
in the Endless Hallway:


The Mariner (Captain Culpepper Clyne)

Captain Culpepper Clyne used to appear as one of the "Sinister Eleven" portraits — those whose eyes seemed to follow you as you walked past them — at the Walt Disney World Haunted Mansion. A new, blank-eyed version of the portrait was put in the Mansion's staircase to ensure that he was still present in the Mansion when the Sinister Eleven were removed; additionally, since 2009, his grave is part of the WDW “Interactive Queue”. 

This is the original “follow-eye” Culpepper Clyne:

And this is the new, blank-eyed version:


“Traveler” Hitchhiking Ghost (Phineas)

Phineas is one of the three Hitchhiking Ghosts. He is the least-remembered one, but still has quite a fancies. 

In the original attraction, Phineas looks like this:


“Skeleton” Hitchhiking Ghost (Ezra)

The most famous Hitchhiking Ghost, Ezra is a tall, snarky, skeletal man. In his original park version, he is bald, but during a redesign, they gave him white hair, which is mirrored here. This had, however, the downside of making him more similar to the Hatbox Ghost, as the two actually share the same head mold.

Bald Ezra in the attraction:


The Opera Glasses Lady

Formerly another one of the “Sinister Eleven” portraits, now gone from the Mansion, but still dearly-remembered by some fans, including Kelly.

Here is the original “Sinister Eleven” portrait:

And, just for fun, here is another striking Kelly rendition
 of the same character:


The Werecat Lady

The Werecat Lady is among the Changing Portraits. She originally flashed (or, later, slowly morphed) from the white-gowned for mimicked by Kelly into a black panther. However, when the effect was rebooted with a new trick, they repainted her; in the current version, she wears a black dress, but turns into a white tiger.

Old, morphing set (in the actual attraction, only Step 1
and Step 6 were visible):

Current version of the Werecat Lady:


Well… it looks like I have covered everything in the Haunted Mansion Comic Strips series by KellyM-Mortal. But be sure to check her gallery, where you will find many more illustrations and sketches of the Haunted Mansion happy haunts. Farewell !

Saturday, 26 March 2016

REVIEW: "Not the reaction he wanted"

The reaction I'd like you
to have would be to open it
in a new folder
to enlarge it.

I have two good news, and a bad one. The bad new is, this is pretty much the last strip in the series. I have a little more stuff to review from Kelly, but it's the last bona fide comic strip. The good news are: first, the Hatbox Ghost is back at the Haunted Mansion, not only in this comic, but in real life; and second, this last strip is awesome.

Yes, thanks for spelling that out, Hattie. As you will notice, Kelly's style changed a little in between Meanwhile in the Attic and this; here he is drawn more anatomically accurately, less cartoonishly, than it used to be. To me it's neither an improvement or a letdown; both styles are awesome, and Kelly makes the best of both. The Hatbox Ghost's hopeful expression is delightful. (I wonder how many dozen times I've mentioned how the facial expressions are awesome since I started reviewing those Haunted Mansion comic strips.) 

Nice “animation” effect. You know, I'm kind of disappointed that for a last strip, Kelly didn't do a full color one, but at least the greyish effects on the Hatbox Ghost and so on show that she was caring.

And, anatomically correct or not, Hattie still manages to make hilarious faces at us when he's disappointed. 

The dialogues do make allusions to real Haunted Mansion facts. As the the Hatbox Ghost's “mythos” grew in those last years thanks to the Internet, Disney began to acknowledge him and use him in merchandise… yes, including shirts and T-shirts. And the “silly pictures in the corridors” refer to the Family Portraits in the Corridor of Doors, where no less than three pictures of Hattie (one wearing a crown, one a bowler hat, and one his usual top hat) can be seen. 

So yes, that is the last gag. It's good. It's very good. But why did it have to stop there ?… Well, at any rate, one final bravo.