Thursday, September 29, 2011

Muley Favors Turra

This Saturday, you might find Muley in Nashville; but, you'll have to look carefully because he'll likely be reading some of his favorite books--namely Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa - Full Circle and Turra: Gun Angel - Bombs and Betrayal (which he got with a special publication). But, what's he going to be in Nashville for? MAW Productions will be at the Nashville Comic and Horror Con October 1 (although it's a two-day convention and also runs Oct. 2).



Friday, September 23, 2011

Earl Kress - A Memoriam


EARL KRESS  (1951 - 2011)
 In Memory of a Great Person

I originally wrote this on Monday evening after hearing of the news that a great man, Earl Kress, was taken from us by that evil, horrible thing known as cancer:

Today, Monday  September 19, 2011, equals a very sad day with the news of my pal Earl Kress losing his battle to liver cancer.

At Earl's L.A. Apartment with Pinky and the Brain, for which he won Emmy Awards!

It was back in 2005 as I was planning a trip to Los Angeles, CA, to meet with other puppeteers that a friend of mine from Muppet Central (using the pseudonym WasOnceErnie) sent me a private message saying, “If you need a ride to your hotel from the airport, I’ll be glad to get you.”  I didn’t know WasOnceErnie at that time from any other person on the internet; but, I felt, ‘if he’s on Muppet Central, he’s okay by me!’  So, with gratitude, I accepted.  “You’ll know me at the airport by the Fozzie Bear t-shirt I’ll have on.”  For folks who don’t know, on Muppet Central I am known as “Fozzie Bear,” so it made sense to be looking for me in such a t-shirt.
There was also a plan that I’d return to his place to practice with Muley and his character, Davey Simpson, on camera and watching it on the monitor down below.  First, though, he showed me all around his town.  We went to the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (where Emmy Awards come from) where I got my photo next to a new Jim Henson sculpture that wasn’t yet opened.  He showed me The Jim Henson Company at the old Charlie Chaplin Studios, REN-MAR Studios (which was once named DesiLu Studios and is where ‘I Love Lucy’ was filmed among other great shows), Raleigh Studios (the studio where Muppets Tonight was filmed), from a distance I saw the Hollywood hills letters, went down to see the theater where attendees of MuppetFest saw “The Muppet Show Live” in 2001, and more.
After a great lunch of chili, we went back to his apartment to goof off with puppets in front of the video monitor and camera.  While there, Earl took a phone call and I began looking around his living room.  I found a large Emmy-looking award and finally asked him, “So, how much did this set you back?”  and when he replied, “Nothing, I won that” I leaned in closer and read that it was indeed an actual Emmy Award for Pinky and the Brain.  I quickly scanned other things that I’d just looked at and realized that there were more awards that he’d won, then that the comic book pages I thought were collectibles were actually from books he’d written…who was this person?  “What do you do for a living again?”  He laughed and said, “I write for cartoons, comic books, t.v. shows, movies, do voice-overs…”  I looked around again and said, “I shouldn’t be here, then!  You’re a big deal, and I only draw a talking mule.”  He laughed at me again and said, “Oh, no, no.  I’m just a regular guy with a fun job.” 
Earl with Kermit made by Mike Moore of HMS Productions.

We visited some more and then began playing with Muley and Davey, and then he brought up a puppet of Kermit constructed by a friend of ours named Mike.  In the middle of our hilarious exchanges and practice, he got a phone call from someone trying to raise money for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s campaign (or some such) and so he handed it off to me that I played a (bad) Fozzie Bear voice and responded to the guy.  I think it’s even on the practice DVD we made.


He drove me down to Disneyland and showed me around there, including the “Aladdin” show that was Broadway-worthy!  We also saw the puppeteered Playhouse Disney show which was awesome.  Being all Muppets fans we went to see MuppetVision 3D with the other Muppet fans and puppeteers.  Riding home to his house we sang Muppet songs in all the different voices we could muster.
At MuppetVision 3D with Frank, Tom, Cousin,
Anthony, Lucas and Kevin.

We met on Saturday, September 24, 2005, to go to the Museum of Television and Radio with my ol’ pal Matt Laesch.  A big Jim Henson celebration was on that day including meeting Cheryl,   Then, that night, we met with everyone over Italian dinners to celebrate Jim Henson’s birthday!  We went to dinner with a big group of puppeteers including my pal Steve Troop and more.  It was pretty funny as we all improvised and then realized that we’d all attracted the entire restaurant as an audience and then we ducked down under the table and began performing for the crowd.  Big fun!  Earl chose a great restaurant that night.  I was always thankful for his hospitality and the fun he showed me in Los Angeles.

At the ConSequential "Process of the Cartoon" Art Show with Andrew and
Amanda Chandler and Jason Negen.

During the puppetry panel, Earl performed alongside Kevin and Steve Troop.
  
One year later, the Mid-South Cartoonists Association put together and produced the educational convention about cartooning called ConSequential.  One of our special guests there was Earl Kress.  He came out and spoke in classes about writing, editing, cartooning, and puppetry.  He was, after all, a talented puppeteer.  On the panel with him were myself and our good pal Steve Troop.  We had a great time, and even traded our puppets back and forth to sample the puppet construction and joke with the different voices.  The end of ConSequential was at a party hosted by Adam and Penny Shaw, and I remember that he’d mentioned that we had a great group of people in Memphis because we were all such good friends.

After the convention was over, we had a chance to go to Graceland and it was probably the most enjoyable trip there I ever had!  He was really into the whole “Elvis-thing” and that made it all fun.  He was always the most fun to be around and talk to.
Then, I had a chance to go to San Diego Comic Con and folks could find Earl and I playing with the Master Replicas Muppets (when they finally set out Fozzie Bear, he called me on the phone to come over and see it).  We went to hear Jerry Beck talk about the worst cartoons ever—and they were—and Earl just laughed and laughed and laughed…  It was great hearing him guffaw at the dumb cartoons.  We goofed-off over dinner, and talked about the fun things we’d experienced before and were experiencing at SDCC. 
Other than e-mails and photos, it was the last chance I had to see him in person. 

Earl was very gracious the whole weekend having fun and making fun, enjoying the art…it was a true testament to the great person he was.  He’s a man to be respected for his kindness and humbleness. We could all do better to strive to be more like him.

I’d mentioned online earlier that I felt kind of dumb that I never sat down and had a real conversation about “the business” of writing, editing, voice-overs and was reminded: it wasn’t settling for goofy conversations and jokes.  It was that we were friends for friends’ sake.  And it’s true!  I still care about my buddy Earl!  He’s a great and wonderful person who will be sorely missed.

Following are some fun pictures from ConSequential.  Hope you have fun, too.
Earl with Muley, Kevin and Greg Weisman (Gargoyles Creator)

You gots money, dawg!

Signing for Pinky and the Brain!

The Three Puppeteers...just as dangerous as Musketeers (we will throw
puppets at you and RUN!)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Muley and Pals Celebrate Jim Henson in Leland, MS, Sept 24th!


So, you want to see Muley in person? Well, come on down to the Leland, MS, Frog Fest (click the image above) in celebration of Jim Henson's birthday on Saturday September 24th as they dedicate The Rainbow Connection Bridge in Jim's honor!


Everyone has heard the tag-line for Muley and pals as "When the irreverence of The Muppets meets the innocence of Peanuts..." so you can already tell the two inspirations I have with one of them being Jim Henson. Not just the work he's created over the years, and not just his creations, but also his words--almost Buddha-like thoughts about love and peace. I suggest a book on the subject called "It's Not Easy Bein' Green and Other Things to Consider." Jim's inspiration to create characters that everyone would love, and the fun-loving, nearly sibling rivalry, between the characters who would still be friends was a leading creative factor when, as a kid, I began developing Muley's Comix and Stories.

So, this would lead me into discussing our trip next Saturday to Leland, MS, where you can find the Jim Henson Boyhood Museum and the soon to be named Rainbow Connection Bridge at the Leland Frog Fest!  Attending the great event will be actress and Muppeteer Fran Brill!  If you ever saw the movie "What about Bob?" then you saw her in an acting role as his love-interest.

Want to know what's going on? You can find the Frog Fest schedule online (by clicking on the link below).

What'll Muley be doing that day? Well, hanging around as usual while I do all the work; but, you can see the Muley booth schedule below to see what's going on!

So, here are some samples of the art we'll be showing. If you click on the images, you can see the progression pictures in the making of the paintings. They are 5x7" paintings in acrylic, and more to come. Heck, I may even be doing some painting while I'm there, so swing by and visit the booth to see what all is going on.




And, Muley has this to say:

video

Finally, several years ago Master Replicas made a Kermit the Frog photo puppet prototype that they sent around the county. While he visited us, we took him around Memphis and also back home to Leland, MS, where he got to revisit old times, and see his old boss in a photo that everyone finds very memorial. Click on the following to see the video montages of photos (with Lin Workman, Martheus and Janet Wade):

Kermit's Trip to Memphis, TN

Kermit's Trip to Leland, MS

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11 - We Remember

If you have to prove your point through hate and terror, you are serving the wrong god. In some cases, some folks serve the right god wrong. Peace, love, happiness and health is what the right god wants for us all.

What do you want?




Too often in today's time, there are people who battle against one another in our own country. Poor vs. Rich, Ethnicity vs. Ethnicity, Religion vs. Religion...

All of our goal should be finding a way, whatever it may be, to connect together so that all those who died that horrible day did not die in vain, that those brave men and women who die daily fighting for our freedom are not dying in vain, and that we are coming together to be what we should be:

One nation.
Under God.
Indivisible.

Make it your duty now and forever to care about your brother man, and let's show those dumb terrorists that they cannot create division and that individually we're strong Americans, and gathered together we are a strong Nation!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Muley for Mayor - Video Tutorial ?

You may remember our last post when Muley got a little deflated because, well, everything Kevin touches "turns into mush?"  It's a good thing he has friends who wish to help him out...



Well, we suppose he must be pretty serious about running for Memphis Mayor.  Lately, he just shot a video explaining the "proper way" to vote for his Honor.  So, go grab your pen and paper to take notes as we share that with you now.


video

Wow.  Okay, we apologize to all the other candidates running and wish them well.  But, we do still hope you're planning to accidentally write-in Muley's name: Muleton Mule, Jr.--The Peoples' Mule!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Muley for Mayor, Kermit's Hometown, and Turra Released!

MULEY FOR MAYOR!
Muley  still running for mayor!  But, in the midst of his time campaigning, he also has time to help his friends.  Even the old ones! (Click to enlarge.)

So, there is this billboard out and about as well!  Don't forget to vote and put a proper mule in the mayoral seat.

Want to help Muley become Memphis Mayor?  Here's a banner you can use!

But, where can you find Muley in September?
Well, you can certainly find him September 24th at
LELAND MS FROG FEST

During the day, we'll be doing comic strip and puppetry demonstrations.  Also, they are renaming a bridge near the Jim Henson Boyhood Museum as "The Rainbow Connection Bridge" that day, which is also Jim Henson's birthday!  If you're around that area, please come out and say hello.  We'll also be selling original art and Muppety paintings!
Then, on Sunday, September 25th, you can find him doing his sermon for the kids at
FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH.  Services start at 10:30; but, come in at 10 am and go to the Congo Cafe to meet and greet folks.  It's really a non-denominational atmosphere and the focus? Love.  A good place, and a great art community, too.  The picture below you can see him during the August kids' sermon.

And now, as editor of MAW Productions you've heard me rave about the Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa series of epic graphic novels; but, now, you've got to get on over to get your copy of Turra: Bombs and Betrayal!  More information will be surfacing before long, but pre-orders can also get a free digital download story "Ramen Delight!"  Click below to read a great first review of the book!

And, don't forget that there are always weekend updates in the webcomics!

That's all for now; but, it's been a huge update and I hope you will always be happy and enjoy life along with those around you every day!