Monday, May 11, 2015

I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story - Ready For Download!

At conventions, I'm asked about what inspired me as a kid to do what I love to do.  Well, a few things, actually; but, if we consider people involved one of them was Jim Henson and the Muppet characters of Sesame Street as a driving force to puppetry.  8am or 3pm, I could watch them daily on our local Memphis PBS station, WKNO Channel 10.  I loved all the classic characters: Ernie and Bert, Grover, Cookie Monster, Count von Count, Oscar, and I would light up when that giant, down-covered yellow mass of joy walked onto the screen:  Big Bird!

I would take my records and knew each one well enough that I could set the needle down at the right spot, and perform a fantastic puppet show using my Sesame Street and Muppet Show puppets.  To see the kind of puppets I am talking about, visit David Maxine's blog about his classic toys collection.  Of course, along with Kermit, the star of my puppet shows would be Big Bird!

You may remember a while back that I was supporting and promoting the documentary "I Am Big Bird" because, after all, I'm a huge fan of both Spinney and the Bird.  I'm often heard saying, "Big Bird makes me happy."

Now, the project is complete and is ready for download from the good folks at Copper Pot Pictures.
CLICK HERE to purchase your download.

For starters, HERE is the interview I did in 2012 with Chad Walker and Dave LaMattina, two of the creators of the project.  It's fun and, per usual, off the wall (when am I ever ON the wall?).

It feels like forever that I've anticipated the release of this long-deserved tribute to a great actor, Caroll Spinney, and his career.  But, the wait has been worth it.  This is the honest story of a man's life, touching on moments we fans remember or may have no clue about (the Space Shuttle Mission, for example), and shows how love and support from family and friends can drive a man toward his success.  So much is explained about his own wonderment of the world and how that translates back to our favorite yellow bird.

Be certain you download the film, and go see it at theaters if one shows up near you.  You will be glad you did!

Supporting web links follow.  Click this image for the official website.

I Am Big Bird - the Facebook page.
Caroll Spinney Official Website.
Copper Pot Pictures.
Sesame Street.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Muley and Friends Show: Easter Eggheads. Premieres Easter 2015!

Click on the image to learn more about the program!
The show times are:
9:32 The Muley and Friends Show: Easter Eggheads
12:34 The Muley and Friends Show: Millionaire Magazines
The Muley and Friends Show: Easter Eggheads

The Muley and Friends Show: Easter Eggheads 
3:35 The Muley and Friends Show: Millionaire Magazines 
4:01 The Muley and Friends Show: Easter Eggheads

Friday, March 6, 2015

Retro-Mule: Comic Strip Film Viewer, Pt. 2

Last week, you learned about the Comic Strip Film Viewer invention that went nowhere once I created it.  Yay!!  Even as a kid I knew a bad idea after I wasted time on it.

The third item of interest in all this was the creation of a story called Ghost of the Galisteins.  It appeared in two versions (as far as I know, I thought for a long time, until I found this receipt tape artwork, that there was only this one version of the story).  We'll share the second version of the story later; but, let's visit this for now:

(Keep in mind:  this is pencil artwork from 1983, so it is HARD to read.)

Unlike last week's post, these you read normally: LEFT to RIGHT!

Here is the second telling of the story, apparently also from 1983:

You see that little zig-zag on the top of the pages?  In the 80's I titled everything under Williams-Mule Productions.  That was the mix of a W and M to create that zig-zag.  I also like that I gave this a Collector Item indication, and that "from now on there will be a special comic strip."

Everyone knows how I love for stories to tie-in.  In Holly Springs, MS, where I grew up, there was a plantation called Strawberry Plains.  As a kid, I thought it was named that after a family, so I added a rich family to the MuleyVerse whose last names were Strawberry.  The eldest of the bunch hated sitting still, so Ms. Strawberry would work and do odd jobs around town.  You may remember her name appearing in the "Buford Adopts a Kitty" story in part 6 and part 7.

A final note:  Though I grew up in Holly Springs, MS, and that was the home base of operations for all the characters in the MuleyVerse, a few years ago I changed the name of their city.  I felt that giving the city a state would make some folks feel 'not at home' while reading it, and struggled with what to do for years.  Then, riding home from Kentucky and Lexington Comic and Toy Convention, we passed a sign that read Bonnieville!  That was the new name, because I could use that to also name the city after my mom.  And, so it was that Holly Springs, MS, in the stories became Bonnieville, USA.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Retro-Mule: Comic Strip Film Viewer, Pt. 1

I found a box of odd-and-end type things and was going through it when I realized that I had found old artwork from the early 1980's!  Some things that I had completely forgot about were now here for me to share, and that's what I want to do this week and next.  So, let's start walking down the memory lane.  Quickly.  Walk fast.  I think there are muggers out here....

When I was a little kid, 1983 or so, I took a flat cardboard box and some rolls of receipt tape that my mom brought home to me and created something I thought was neat (at first).

Before continuing: The receipt tape was paper that I could use to draw on instead of my primary tablets.  It was free, and we weren't very financially able to splurge on drawing paper, so my mom supported my drawing habit any way she could.  Even my grandparents who would tear open a paper sack that groceries came in so I could draw on that.  Unfortunately, none of that exists.

Back to my creation:  I thought that the idea was neat to have the comic strips run in a particular order so they could be threaded through a 'viewer' and you could read one frame at a time.  It could be read as horizontal strips, or turned and read as vertical strips.

 The problem I noticed after three turns at this was: If you use it, you have the trouble of going back and rewinding the whole strip.  Plus, to print and sell something like this would be more costly than, say, printing an actual comic book that you have the ease of turning pages to read your story.

This week and next, you'll get a chance to see these three turns from the early 1980's and see why this was not  a very profitable idea.  (To read these, read down, then back to the top.)

In this first strip, you see Muley playing one of my favorite video games, Pac-man, and acting out what I also acted out when it was time to stop playing and move long: Pac-icide.  You kill off your Pac-man, end the game, and head outside to play.

(By the way, read these DOWN, and then back to the top.)

To show that I was aiming for a film strip idea here, you can see the countdown to the next 'show.'

In this strip, you see Kevin and Michelle Rhea.  Obviously, Kevin is named after me.  My best friend as a kid was a girl named Michelle, and everyone said we looked a lot alike so I created twins in the MuleyVerse named Kevin and Michelle Rhea (who, in the stories, are my cousins).  Michelle liked the idea of cartooning and created a character that she later gave to me, although I gave her credit for that character for years and you'll see that character in the next installment.

Here are Kevin and Michelle Rhea.

Note:  I love French's Classic Yellow Mustard, and eat some foods (like hot dogs) just so I have something to put mustard on.  Here, you see Kevin Rhea eating a hot dog slathered in mustard!

Hope you enjoyed this walk down memory lane.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Buford Adopts a Kitty - Part 7

Catch up on Parts 1 & 2    Part 3    Part 4    Part 5   Part 6

You already know that the kitten had to go, but we still have to wrap up the story.  Here's the end!

Hope you had fun.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Buford Adopts a Kitty - Part 6

To recap:
Parts 1 & 2      Part 3      Part 4     Part 5

And now, an all-new episode of Buford Adopts a Kitty...even though the kitty is pretty much out of the picture.  I don't like drawing kitties.

Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion of Buford Adopts a Kitty!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Buford Adopts a Kitten - Part 5

Previous strips in review:
Parts 1 & 2
Part 3
Part 4

And now, ladies and gentlemen (if you're still around), Part 5.
(Click the comic strip to see it larger.)

We're making a round of jokes about allergies, and that's because I have those allergies and it allows Muley and Friends to be ridiculous.  There are ways to take care of those allergies.  Here is a good website that can help.

Stay tuned for part 6!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Buford Adopts a Kitty - Part 4

Visit Parts 1 & 2 and Part 3.

(Click the comic strip to view larger.)

When first planning to adopt a pet, our suggestion is to snag plenty of allergy medicines to begin with.  There are generic medications that keep you from spending all that extra money that you'll need for vet bills and getting holistic pet food.

The second step to the planning is finding where to get the pet.

In our case, Casper wandered into the driveway before a storm as a kitten, and I suckered myself into keeping him.  Wendy was in the middle of the road as a kitten, and she suckered me into keeping her.  Bebe was one of 9 puppies born under the abandoned house next door, and when we took "all" of them to a foster farm, she hid in my house and I got attached/suckered into keeping her.

But, your case may be different.  Consider the pound, consider animal shelters.  There are good animals there that need a Forever Home and love.  You don't have to purchase a full-breed animal to get a good pet, and sometimes rescued animals are not only the best pet, but also they are the pet that gives you the best, appreciative love!

You can also check with your local vet's office as they sometimes have good advice on getting a pet and where to go.

Remember, getting a pet is not a short-term act.  These are called Forever Homes for a reason: when you get a pet, you also get responsibility.  Feeding, cleaning, playing, exercise, activity...there are many jobs in taking care of your pet, and the attention required is exorbitant!  Also, you can have a pet at home, but that pet at home can also be abandoned--don't be that person!

Don't leave them outdoors chained up with no attention, don't leave them without plenty of water and food, don't leave them out in the cold, don't leave them locked up in a small room, don't leave them to their own devices.

Pets need a boss.  Not the "Hitler" kind of boss, but the kind of boss that cares about them and wants everything that is happening and that is going to happen to be a happy outcome for the critters.

So, this post reminds you of the responsibility in providing a Forever Home to an animal.  And reminds you to get allergy meds.

Up next, part 5.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Buford Adopts a Kitty - Part 3

(Click comic strip to see it larger.)
You can see Parts 1 & 2 by clicking here.

As I mentioned before, I like to take items from my real life and add them to the comic strips for Muley the Mule and Friends. 

When we perform puppets, I assist Muley; but, Martheus Wade assists Buford the Dog and Janet Wade assists Missy Mule.  Now, while I adopted Wendy that inspired this series, Martheus and Janet adopted a black cat which they named Black Cat, who had a kitten that was named Black Kitty

So, when it came time for Buford to name his kitten, I thought, "What better play on real life than to borrow from his live-show assistant."  So, Buford names his cat Kitty since it's a kitten.

The Wades with the original Kitty.

Hope the story is moving along fun for you!

Here comes part 4!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Buford Adopts a Kitty - Parts 1 & 2

(Click the comic strips to see them bigger.)

I have mentioned before that most of the things I write for puppets or comic strips have a basis on my real life.   In this series of strips, Buford the Dog adopts a kitten.

The story begins with Zombie Walk and my buddy, DaMarco Randle, also the supplier of the photos to follow.

DaMarco is the clown in the middle...
 A few years ago, after Zombie Walk was over, I traveled home on Danny Thomas Blvd in Memphis with my buddy DaMarco Randle, when he, in the passenger seat, began hitting the invisible passenger-side brakes yelling, “CAT IN THE ROAD! CAT IN THE ROAD! Didn’t you see the cat in the road?”

“What?”  I asked, hoping I didn’t hit anything.  “Where?”

“There was a kitten in the road!” he exclaimed.

“Living or dead?”


I was certain that it was up to fate to handle the life of that kitten.  I didn’t put it there, and it wasn’t my responsibility. 

But, I’m an old softie and as I thought about it I began to realize that I can’t just leave a kitten on side of the road, so I did a huge, illegal U-Turn in the middle of Danny Thomas Blvd, aka Hwy 61, and crossed back over the bridge.  From within the deep grasses across the street I hear “Meow! Meow!”  This poor kitten screaming and hollering.  My initial thought:  I hurt it! 

I whipped the vehicle around again and stopped by the side of the road where DaMarco lured the kitten to him and into the vehicle.  All the way home, this kitten kept looking at me.  I didn’t want to make eye contact with it because I just knew what would happen.

We got her home, watered her, fed her, washed her, and while she dried I left her in the towel, holding her to my chest to keep her warm.  I looked down at those big eyes a few times, and shouldn’t have, though I could still resist.

But, she pulled the winning card.
Purring, this kitten began to crawl out of the towel, up to my chin, rub against it, and I sank into the couch.

“You’re keeping her, aren’t you?” DaMarco asked as I sank.


One cat had already been a rescue, and his name is Casper*.  After the ghost.  So, of course, you have to partner that name up with the good little witch, Wendy.

That being said, you know the real story; but, here is how it happens in the MuleyVerse.  Let’s see what happens when Buford finds a kitten lost in the wild over the next few weeks.
This is the first kitten sketch planned for the strips.

*The first pet to rescue was a male cat now named Casper.  He wandered into my driveway just before a storm and was brought in to keep the kitten from suffering through the storm.  I was playing with him and accidentally named him.  When you name it, you have to keep it.  Which is why I never name people or kids.

Wendy was the second rescue.  The third rescue would be a dog.  DaMarco named her and her sister that looked just like her:  Bebe and Cece.  We kept Bebe.  I wanted to name her Princess, so her name is Princess Bebe, but we just call her Bebe.  I guess it was a better name than Aeae.

Enjoy these stories!