Saturday, May 19, 2012
Welcome to the Monster Shop, sir! Can you tell us about yourself and what you do?
I make stuff up and write it down so, hopefully, folks will read it. All kinds of stuff. Prose, comics, children’s books, scientific and educational material, screenplays – I’ve pretty much had my hand in all of it for the past twenty-five years or so.
You done wrote a book called THE HALLOWEEN LEGION. What's this here about, and how'd you get started on it?
And a right smart of a book it is, too! But I heard you is into old pulp heroes and such. What's some of your favorite ones?
I became acquainted with the pulps when I was about twelve years old, as a friend introduced me to the Doc Savage paperback series. Next time I was at the store I bought one, read it, and was immediately addicted. I still am. I discovered Tarzan and the many other creations of Edgar Rice Burroughs around this same time and I haven’t been the same since. Starting in 2006, I’ve been fortunate enough to regularly write the original pulp hero The Spider, both in comics and prose, and I’m also currently composing Tarzan At The Earth's Core as a graphic novel, as well several other licensed Burroughs properties, which will be published by Sequential Pulp Comics, a new imprint of Dark Horse Comics. So, I’m definitely living the dream.
So you is up to a lot of didoes, I see, and it is always good to keep busy. But what was it inspired you to start writin books?
It was a very deliberate decision. I've wanted to tell stories since I was a kid, and I started writing and drawing my own books when I was six years old. I've had other interesting jobs from time to time, from an educator in the paleontology gallery of a museum, to acting on stage and working as an extra in film, as an illustrator, and even a short stint as a stage magician. Writing fiction has always been the most driving creative force in my life, and I always kept coming back to it. I feel very lucky to be a professional writer.
Well, everyone should do what they is good at. What is your future plans for the Halloween Legion? Are you doin some other writins of interest?
Thomas Boatwright as well as a brand new prose novel for Wildcat Books. I’d also love to do HL coloring books, animation, action figures, lunch boxes, t-shirts, Halloween masks, radio shows, newspaper comic strips, feature films, and even a gentler picture book version for younger kids, too. I’m aiming pretty high, I know, but our dreams should always be bigger than life. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Since you is obvious likin Halloween, what was your best Halloween ever?
Last Halloween was the best ever. But I know the next one will top it. And so on. We should always strive to make our best memories today.
Yessir! I got one more question: What kind of advice would you give to someone else who was writin somethin?
Poe, Shirley Jackson, O. Henry, H.G. Wells, and Edgar Rice Burroughs. These are master story-tellers, who practically invented the specific genres that have become so popular today. Modern writers would be nothing without these illustrious trailblazers, whether they admit it or not.
Now that there is right smart advice. Mr. Powell's The Halloween Legion can be found out to that Amazon.com in both a book and a Kindle e-book, and I am here to say that you should get you a copy right quick, even though it ain't Halloween right now. I hope you will visit Mr. Powell here on the Internet gadget and keep up with his doins, cause he is writin some good stuff what's fine for a summer read. I shall be goin here now, but be sure to come on back because it is always one thing and then another here to the Monster Shop and it is anyone's guess whatever next. Blessings be on you all!
Petronella "Punkin" Nightshade
Monday, May 14, 2012
So I'm reminded of the phrase, "It's only a movie."
We used to say that, once upon a time, when we were seated in the theatre watching a movie and they were about to do a reveal on the Big Scary Monster of the piece, or the hero was in dire straits, or something was coming up behind that particular scene's victim and was about to take them out. In the Technological Age, we don't say that anymore because these days we're All Connected and such, and we blog about Things and read reviews and make decisions and generally Act Like Adults about things that used to thrill and terrify us. But the Child Inside still remembers how we used to feel, sitting there in dark shadows watching flickering pictures on a screen, and the thrills we got and that wonderful feeling of being a part of something, of personal enjoyment, of being all connected. The Technological Age, for all of its connectedness and innovations, has failed to properly capture this feeling for us, and because of this we demand much, much more accountability from our entertainment than we used to.
|Barnabas The First (Jonathan Frid)|
|"Are they kidding?"|
For my part, while I love Dark Shadows and always have, I cannot call myself a fan in the same spirit that the film's decriers do. Dark Shadows achieved legendary status for me due to my not having ever seen it in my youth, but constantly hearing about it from older family members who had seen some of the show's original run. Ye Reviewer is currently enjoying the series through Netflix, and I can say without reservation that despite it falling victim to the usual disliked soap-opera conventions, it is every bit worth watching and deserving of its legendary status.
At this point, some people will be saying "yeah, well, when your favorite thing gets remade into a big crappy movie, you'll change your tune." For me, that has already happened. Saw Scooby-Doo; hated it, but the sequel got it right. Saw Star Trek; didn't exactly dislike it, but the Star Trek Universe represented there seemed mighty homogenized compared to the original series, and the whole timeline-reboot sequence was obviously shoehorned in because the writers ran out of plot. Still refuse, to this day, to watch Gus Van Sant's remake of Psycho, and if I ever meet the guy I'm probably going to jail. So I do understand your pain and what you are talking about.
|"Okay, people, hear me out..."|
Much of the original DS backstory is told in the first few minutes of the movie, which shows the Collins family arriving from England in 1760 and establishing themselves as founders and favorite sons of Collinsport, Maine. The eldest son, Barnabas (Depp), completes the building of his family's palatial estate of Collinwood and becomes something of a playboy, getting caught in a love triangle between housemaid Angelique Bouchard (Green) and his true love, Josette DuPres (Heathcote). Unfortunately, Angelique proves to be a witch, and Barnabas's refusal of her love dooms the Collins family and Josette. Angelique casts a spell that kills Barnabas's parents, curses the Collins family and sends Josette over the cliffs at Widow's Hill, then curses Barnabas as a vampire. She then turns the townsfolk of Collinsport against Barnabas, who bury him in a chained coffin in the woods.
|Creepy, spooky, mysterious, dysfunctional: the Collins family|
|"No Happy Meal toys, eh? That's regrettable..."|
|"I am Collins... hear me roar."|
|"Hey, can you blame me? Vampires are cool."|
|Queen Wasp: Angelique|
|Honey Bee: Victoria/Maggie/Josette (?)|
The mood of the original is well-captured in staging and sets, demonstrating Burton's quirky-Goth sensibilities while not burying the source material beneath them. Like the original, Dark Shadows the movie is its own world, and the settings of Collinsport and Collinwood, despite the 70's period pastiches, give every appearance of being well off the beaten path. Longtime Burton collaborator Danny Elfman's score adds the usual deliciously dark flavor to the film, even using a bit of original DS score (sharp-eared fans will catch Robert Cobert's "The Secret Room" cue at the beginning and in other places through the film).
|"Yes, I'm completely serious."|
And despite what anyone wants to say, it's hardly a parody of the original. We have had vampires and other supernatural creatures in the pop-culture consciousness for at least a millennium now, and while Burton's Dark Shadows digs no new ground in the vampire legend (and neither did the original), this film does nothing to make fun of the show or its fanbase. If it spoofs anything, it spoofs the deadly, unhealthy seriousness and quest for realism we have attached to supernatural and horrific entertainment by setting classical Gothic melodrama in the 1970's, a time when pop-culture completely lacked the ability to be serious about anything. In this age when we are demanding more from our sources of entertainment than our presidential candidates, we could use a little of those high spirits today, and Burton's Dark Shadows may hold the key to that. Go see it with an open mind, and then indulge heavily in the original. You might find yourself joining Team Barnabas after all. And besides, it's only a movie.
There you go.
|"With animosity toward none."|