Most sites give you all sorts of gift giving ideas this time of year, but I’m turning the tables and putting it all on YOU!
Here’s something I’d really enjoy as a gift from one of you folks, original TV Guide advertising art of Lee Van Cleef in The Master!
This 18×22″ original was rendered back in mid 1980′s by artist Larry Salk. Crisp, high-contrast illustrations like these would often reproduce better than half-toned photos on the cheaper-than-cheap pulp upon which TV Guide and newspaper TV listing inserts were printed.
Yep, this would look awesome hanging on my wall, so hit this eBay link and make with the $500 somebody.
For the next month we’ll be looking at plenty more cool stuff I’d love to own and you as loyal and grateful readers can all pitch in and play Santa… right? RIGHT?!?!? Anyone…
Posted 6 days, 21 hours ago. Add a comment
Tags: Lee Van Cleef, The Master
This amazingness from the mobile “cinemas” of Ghana, Africa is on eBay right now, for a steal, too!
Plenty more goodness here, as well!
Posted 7 months, 1 week ago. Add a comment
Tags: Five Element Ninjas, Ghana movie posters
So I was having dinner with my pal, the uber-talented Rafael Navarro, and we were musing on what a ninja would look like if drawn by the legendary Jack Kirby. He whipped this off on a napkin, and seeing as I was footing the bill, I swiped it for myself!
Love those Kirby-esque square fingers!
This inspired Raf to spend a night rendering some better-realized shinobi more in his own style in a proper sketchbook, and here they are — A VINTAGE NINJA EXCLUSIVE!
Watercolor brush pens and a rough-tooth paper stock make for some beautifully expressive lines here. Love these, but I especially adore this dynamic dropping sequence ending in the requisite 3-point landing!
Raf has been a go-to illustrator for me for seemingly forever. A few years back I collected ten years of Mexican wrestler art he did for my magazine and books over at FPU in a nifty tome called Lucha Noir: The Complete Rafael Navarro in From Parts Unknown.
Score a copy here.
Posted 8 months ago. 4 comments
Shirato Sanpei‘s manga epic Ninja Bugeicho had dozens of characters, and hundreds more victims of these characters, too. Being a ninja comic, he could have gone the easy route and just hooded-up most of these people, lessening the burdens of both character design and repeat renderings.
Instead, he cranked out a huge load of distinct characters in a remarkably diverse variety of styles. From page-to-page and panel-to-panel, realism was mixed with cartoonishly absurd elements, minimalist blocky anatomies stared down more complex and elegantly organic aesthetics. Even the hoods had wide-ranging antics of their own.
Young vs. old, good vs. evil, warriors vs. laymen, samurai vs. serfs — the alterations of his style to set them apart sometimes made characters look imported from other artists’ books. But at the same time, it was all him and all worked in one ambitious graphic narrative.
Read up on Sanpei’s shinobi from a site that actually knows what it’s talking about, What is Manga.
Posted 9 months, 3 weeks ago. Add a comment
Tags: Shirato Sanpei
Remember during the home video explosion how many low-end kung-fu movies got cheap new package art and “ninja”-centric re-titles? I got burned so many times at the video store by this, fuming when the 70′s ‘chop-sockey’ playing on my VHS not only had no ninja content, there weren’t even any vaguely ninja-esque hooded characters in there that might have been mis-identified by an honest mistake.
I thought those days were over, but lo-and-behold!
In a film marketing context, “Shinobification” — the giving of implied ninja-ness to something that has no actual shinobitude of its own — ranges from slightly fudging advertising or packaging to make minor ninja characters seem more important than they actually are, to outright bait-and-switch in the hopes some poor sucker’s ninja-fandom causes them to purchase what is essentially a ninja-less product.
The current release of Warriors of Virtue 2: The Return to Tao is decidedly the latter!
For the uninitiated, Warriors of Virtue was a somewhat notiorious 1997 martial fantasy flick co-produced by soon-to-be-broke American and Chinese partners. Trying to drag on the live-action Turtles flicks, it achieved what few thought was possible — uglier kangaroo suits than Tank Girl. Despite a lot of really good FX and stunt folk working their asses off on this thing (and Abe Sapien himself Doug Jones as one of the martial marsupials), it was an absolute catastrophe for the studios and toy licensers involved.
How a sequel got made is beyond me, but somehow five years later one did. Usually sequels to creature-suit driven movies are cranked out to re-use (and amortize) the appliances from the original, but in this case it’s explained to us the kangaroos have evolved into normal looking humans now, so even the core critter-ness of the first film is gone here. So you write-out the gimmick animals but keep the name of your disastrously under-performing initial film?
Return to Tao‘s release was marred by the sudden death of its villain star Kevin Smith, who played Ares on the Hercules and Xena TV shows. Maybe that’s why I had never even known of its existence until it hit Netflix streaming unceremoniously last year?
Then last week I’m in a Fry’s Electronics and WOW! Are you kidding me?
Quick checklist of things, besides kung-fu kangaroos, that are NOT in this movie:
4.) Any building from any era of Japan.
5.) $4.99 worth of quality martial arts.
They even do the cheesy trick of dropping the “2″ from the title so as not to initially discourage potential buyers who never saw (or heard of) the original, of which there are MANY.
Now, to be fair, there is ONE scene where a female character wears a ninja-lke-if-you-squint outfit, which foreign packaging properly exploits:
But this North American bargain-bin DVD release crosses the ninja-bait-and-swindle line. Don’t be fooled shinobi-cinema-files!
Besides, you can see in on Netflix for free…
Posted 10 months, 2 weeks ago. Add a comment
Tags: Warriors of Virtue 2
Check out the latest from Eddie Mort!
And see a pile of imagery at the Dead Ringo tumblr.
Posted 1 year, 6 months ago. Add a comment
Tags: DEAD RINGO
These brush illos were used as chapter breaks in reprint collections of Shirato Sanpei‘s Ninja Bugeicho.
Posted 1 year, 7 months ago. 1 comment
Tags: Ninja Bugeicho, Shirato Sanpei
Some of the ninja-centric paintings from Ghana ‘movie theaters’ that were on display at last year’s Movie Mojo shows at Chicago gallery Primitive:
Posted 1 year, 8 months ago. Add a comment
Tags: Ghana movie posters
Something that came out the 80s and lived on into the 90′s was the bare-armed body-building look for ninja, a mutation driven by the painted covers of Ninja Magazine and video game package art. These roided-up shinobi sacrificed protection for an intimidating gun show, and cared not that the well-oiled sheen of those muscles did-in whatever stealth they were hoping to achieve.
And here’s another mutation from the video game world, the French Foreign Legion flapped hood.
Posted 1 year, 9 months ago. 7 comments
Tags: Ninja Magazine, video games
Many thanks to VN regular RG for sending me this link:
The Dreamworks storyboard artist who refers to himself only as ‘Michael’ really captures something here. Who didn’t hurt themselves with these things back in the day?
Posted 1 year, 10 months ago. 1 comment