Saturday, June 27, 2015

Superman Celebration 2015 - That's a Wrap!

We love Metropolis, IL, when all the super heroes fly into town and make an historic landing to save the world from dull, boring times.  This is the second weekend in June, every year, and a time when all the greatest people of the planet converge on this town of about 5000 people to celebrate the greatest super hero of the comic book world: Superman!

We've been going to Superman Celebration nearly every year for many years now, and we love it.  The people of Metropolis are the best! Sweet, friendly, and the kind of folks you just love to love.  Good hugs, too!

And it's always an adventure.


This year, so much was happening with costumes, dealer rooms, fan films, comics artists and writers, and more.  The food vendors are always great, and there's nothing better than a lemon shake-up!

Lin Workman helps notify people where they want to be.

Trevor Hawkins and some original art!

"One Fine Sunday" exhibit, curated by artist John Read.

We had our schedule, and we provided our own brand of entertainment...albeit bad in some cases*!

First, our panel on television puppetry was low on attendance.  It numbered zero.  But, it was also very early in the morning.  Still, this panel may be retired.

*Our first puppet show, though, was well attended.  Nearly 50 or 60 people in the audience!  Now, time comes and the laptop is plugged into the speaker system.  "Play" is hit and we run behind the stage.  Music starts, and Muley dances up to the edge of the stage.  What happens?  No words are being sung.  So, Muley dances down and I run back to the computer.  I do some work on it, and then get the music playing again.

Music starts, and Muley dances up to the edge of the stage.  What happens?  Still no words are being sung.  Muley dances down, and I apologize to the audience, "Sorry, but we're having some technical difficulties."  I go back to the laptop.  I'm getting music, and no vocals.  So, with an audience of 50 - 60 people I do what any self-respecting performer does:


I call a friend, Stephanie Perrin, up and she is willing to push play when the critters let her know to start (she did an AMAZING job picking up on the signals, too).  So, Muley walks up to talk to his audience:

"Hello, everyone!  Are we having fun in Metropolis this year?  Are we enjoying all the heat?  Yes, we are!  Are we all here ready to see my friends and I perform?  Are you here to see us perform BADLY?  Well, as you might imagine: Per Murphy's law if something can go wrong it will, and it has.  So we can focus on our performances, the shows are pre-recorded but today we're only getting music and no vocals.  So, as we always do, when things get tough: WE GET TOUGHER!  Today, we're going to perform our songs LIVE for you, starting with 'Polk Salad Annie!'  Maestro, if you would..."

The music starts, Muley performs the song, the audience applauds.  Then, Frankie Steinatra sings "Witchcraft," followed by Missy Mule performing "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend," and more.  The lyrics were on my cellphone on my knee to be sure I didn't forget anything, so I was sitting, as you may imagine, in the worst position.

Joan, Muley's Co-host for the kids' costume contest, arrives as Baymax from Big Hero 6 and starts introducing the show when Muley pops up, "Woah, woah, waitaminnit! Quick, someone call the Ghostbusters! The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is on the loose! Or the Michelin Man!  Some kind of man! Somebody call the Ghostbusters!"  Then, she introduced the character to Muley who now understands, and they introduce about 40+ kids in costume to the audience.

Time for food--walking taco and lemonade!

The next day, the Puppet-making Workshop was a blast!  Showing people what they can do with a sock is so much fun.  Glue on some pipe cleaners, some pom-poms for noses and eyes, cheerleader pom-poms for wigs, and more.  Kids were taking our "Secrets of Puppetry" hand out and trying to learn puppetry with their new puppets!  This was a big deal, and a fantastic thing to see happening!


That afternoon's Muley and Friends Show was a much better performance as we figured out what was going on with the sound system!  Although, Roy Duck was left behind so Missy Mule filled in to perform Rawhide with Muley, which was a lot of fun.


Muley is ready to go onstage, and performing "Puttin' on the Ritz" with Frankie Steinatra (photo by Micah Riley).

We're looking forward to making another trip there in 2016 to see our Metropolis Family and renew our love for that great city, it's great people, and more.  Hope to see you there!

Here are the costumes!  Enjoy:






First Congo Kids' Messages - 6/21/2015

This was shared in this week's First Congo "Congo Beat" newsletter.  Want to know more about helping the community?  Want to know what it REALLY means to spread the love of Jesus?  Want to know a bunch of really good people?  Come check out First Congo!!!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Superman Celebration 2015! SuperMule returns to Metropolis!!

Everyone knows our favorite large-scale celebration in our favorite small town is Superman Celebration!!  Muley has a lot going on this year (and Kevin doing something), and now you can see what he's doing in his schedule below, or check the full schedule for everything going on because there are TONS happening.  Hopefully, you will be there!

Superman Celebration Official Page
Superman Celebration Schedule

Muley's Schedule
Friday June 12th
11am     Puppetry for Television Panel (13+) - Kevin
3:30pm  Muley and Friends' Show - Muley and Friends
4pm       Kids' Costume Contest - Muley co-hosts with Joan

Saturday June 13th
10am     Puppet Making Workshop - Kevin
1pm       Muley and Friends' Show - Muley and Friends

(June 21 is the 49th Kids' Message at First Congo, by the way!)

And here are some awesome SuperMule comic strips to get you in the mood...

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.