Monster Brawl!

Monster Brawl ~ 2011, Jesse Thomas Cook


Monster Brawl should win an award for having one of the most straight forward and least misleading titles of all time. It’s called Monsters Brawl, that’s what it’s about, that’s what happens, and that’s what you’re going to see.  Monsters, who brawl. The movie has essentially no storyline, just the minimal exposition needed to show us each monster and then to explain that they’ll be brawiling. There’s a ring, two announcers, a ref, and monsters, who brawl… And that’s about it. Presumably, the financial backing for the film was handled by some kind of secret coalition of third graders.  It’s an exercise in simplicity, anything that doesn’t serve the purpose of working toward the brawling of monsters is stripped away and discarded. It’s more than a little juvenile, but you can’t really hold that against it, since you’re watching damn Monster Brawl. Who are you to judge? Plus, it’s well made. The low budget is apparent, but this is easily forgivable because the film doesn’t take itself very seriously. Monster Brawl clearly has one priority, to facilitate the brawling of monsters, and if you aren’t too cynical, you might have fun watching it. It won’t offer much for those demanding of less shallow viewing experiences, the truth is that if you’re willingly watching what basically amounts to Wrestlmania with werewolves and swamp monsters, you’ve sorta waived the right to complain about your movie being goofy. Plus, if it’s a choice between Monster Brawl and whatever Michael Bay abomination is stinking up your local multiplex theater, Monster Brawl is never the wrong choice. On the other hand, having read the description, if Monster Brawl doesn’t sound like something you’d enjoy, you’re probably right.


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Skinned Deep

Skinned Deep~ 2004, Gabe Bartalos

In the bonus features on the Skinned Deep DVD, various cast and crew members speak of director Gabriel Bartalos as though he were some sort of mad genius… That’s a hard sell. I just don’t think if I can buy that, however, I will say this; there is a moment in Skinned Deep where the movie suddenly takes a hard right turn out of inept, and into insane. After this point, the rest of the film is cast an an entirely new light, it stops feeling like it deserves to be lopped in with other low budget, shot on video horror films of the era, like O-Zone/Street Zombies or Darkwalker, and more like it should be viewed as landing somewhere between Basket Case 2/3 and The Last House on Dead End Street. Having seen the whole film, it’s clear that Skinned Deep is a special case. That being said, I’m not sure how to feel about it.

The plot feels unimportant; it’s your typical “Girl get’s kidnapped by mutants and weirdos in the middle of nowhere” type scenario, a cross pollinated descendant of both The Hills Have Eyes and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, but the experience feels more like House of 1000 Corpses by way of Fred Olen Ray. The frustrating thing about the movie is that while some areas of the film’s production appear feeble or dangerously malnourished, there are other areas where talent, effort, and forethought are incredibly evident. Again, I’m not one to jump on the “Bartalos is a genius” bandwagon, but I get the feeling that with a proper budget and a good producer to keep things on track, he might be able to achieve something really special. As it is, this film’s execution is incredibly uneven, and there are more than enough flaws to turn off any audience which isn’t accustomed to this sort of straight to video bullshit.

No review of Skinned Deep would be complete without addressing the film’s real claim to fame, however, and that is the fight scene between Shakes, and Plates. Let’s get into this:

In the movie, Veteran little person actor Warwick Davis plays a deranged mutant (I guess?) called Plates, a name he earned due to his lethal use of dinnerware as projectile weaponry. Yep, he wings dishes at people. Plates and his tribe of freaks come up against a motorcycle gang made up of senior citizens, and one of these over the hill roughians is Shakes, an old man, who shakes a lot. With the stage set, the confrontation between bikers and mutants blossoms in a Psychotronic treasure which is the full on, knock down, drag out, King Kong VS Godzilla style fist fight of the New Millennium; the battle between a shaky old man and a dwarf who throws dishes at people. The Shakes VS Plates scene is worth the cost of admission alone. O-Zone can’t compete with that shit.

So, Bartalos has done lots of stuff, but he’s only directed one other film, which is a shame. I’d like to see more out of him. As it is, Skinned Deep is a curiosity, it doesn’t fit in with it’s peers, and is not so easily dismissed as other shot on video horror films of the past twenty years. I recommend it, because of the Shakes VS Plates scene, but I can’t honestly say that you will like it. More than anything else,  this movie exists as a strange detour, and as evidence that Bartalos may be some sort of relatively undiscovered talent waiting for an opportunity.

Of course, who knows what we would get out of him if he had to play by studio rules.


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Evolution of a pannel!

I thought it might be cool to show you a bit of my process, and how the work changes as it evolves. Check it:

1. Idea ~ The first stage in my comic process; I am struck with an idea, yet I somehow  resist the ever present urge to kill.

2. Writing ~ My “writing” process happens on ordinary, cheap, spiral notebooks, which can be had for like, a dollar. In this stage, the art is super slap dash, often only a few lines. It’s ordinarily just enough for me to look at it and know what I’m going to be drawing later, but other people can’t often make out what they’re looking at. Even so, sometimes I like these original, more gestural drawings better. Also, there is text included at this stage, though it often changes before the final product is finished. Here is a panel from issue five in this stage:


3- Drawing (stage 1) ~ 18 X 24 drawing pads are used for the pencil stage, usually Strathmore, but I’m not too picky on that. I mark out the dimensions of my page and each of the panels, and then I draw each of the illustrations in a sloppy fashion using a softer pencil, at least a 2B.
24- Drawing (Stage 2) ~ Harder pencils are used to retrace my drawings, correct mistakes and add detais, and darker, sloppier lines are erased. I use hard leads, at least a 4H, because it closely replicates the experience of using a pen. At this stage no values are included, and things are reduced to stark contrasts and positive and negative spaces.

35- Ink! ~ I staple a large bristol sheet over the drawing page and then trace my original drawing over using ink pens and a light board. I prefer to use fine pens for 95% of the line work, .05 or .03s, often Copic Multiliners or LePens. For the fill, obviously, I will use thicker points, sometimes a .1, a .3, or a .5, but anything thicker is relatively worthless to me. I burn through these pens pretty fast.

6- Color~ I hand color each page using art markers. At this point my marker use is at about 60% Prismacolors and 40% Copic Sketch markers. I use the brush ended Prismacolors, and mostly use the brush ends of any marker that I use. I color pretty fast, so it ends up being a little sloppy. At this point I will start to layer and use some minor blending with the markers to add value, but I still think the end result looks a little more stylized and flat, which is my preference.


From here, the pages are scanned, cleaned up (Notice all the splotches in the gutters around each panel- that has got to go!) and then the lettering stage begins, which is my least favorite part. Yeah… Some changes are going to be made regarding my lettering process. So…. Anyway. I hope you enjoyed this little look into how I make my comics. Party on, everybody.


Crimes Against Humanity: Tim Burton


Tim, Tim, Tim. You’re done, son. At one time, a strong argument could be made for Tim Burton being a strong, unique artistic voice. That time was called the early nineties, and much has changed. Now, he’s a machine that takes old, boring ideas, goths ’em up a little bit and farts out complete and utter tripe. He sucks now, and everybody knows this. I have no illusions about this blowing anyone’s mind, I’m beating a dead horse with this article, and I know it. Sometimes, though, that’s fun to do. I think. Come, join me as I kick this guy while he’s down! The following is a brief list of some of his foulest crimes; may God have mercy on his soul.

  • Becoming Messiah for millions of Devoted Hot Topic Shoppers because he directed a movie he didn’t direct: Tim Burton did not direct Nightmare Before Christmas. He was involved heavily with the project, but he didn’t direct it. By now, most people know this, but it needs to be acknowledged here. Does it matter? I’m not sure. I’m not sure about anything anymore.
  • No originality in 11 years, very little over all: Tim Burton is basically ‘The Nothing’ from Neverending Story.
    He’s a bleak, colorless cloud of intellectual death gobbling up ideas and spitting them out as Danny Elfman/Johnny Depp goth-pop bore fests. He doesn’t really do new ideas at all. Big Fish, 2003. That’s the last original thing Tim Burton did. Before that he had fumbled his goth ass through a shabby damn Planet of the Apes remake, as well as a somewhat original/still based on existing source material filmed versions of Sleepy Hollow, Mars Attacks, and a comedy/drama adaptation of the life of Ed Wood. The film prior to that was his Batman sequel, so we’re really reaching far back into his filmography to desperately grope for something original, and the truth is there really isn’t much there. As it turns out, Tim Burton’s strengths aren’t so much in new ideas, he’s more about that all too recognizable Tim Burton aesthetic, and it seems that his goal in life is to reshape the world into this distinct (boring) style franchise by franchise. He could also be compared to the Borg. It’s similar.
  • Trying to make Nicholas Cage Superman: YEP! He did this. He wanted this. This was going to happen. Don’t even try to tell me that it isn’t fair to judge a film that never came out, and I’m also disinterested in the defense that Michael Keaton was also a controversial choice for Batman, because there comes a time when enough is enough. This was that time.
  • Frankenweenie: At a time when Burton was taking tons of heat for his continued drought of original ideas and his zest for remaking movies that were already good without him, he made the brilliant decision to actually remake his own movie. Good work, genius. Next up; a remake of Edward Scissorhands, now with every single cast member being played by either Johnny Depp or Helena Bonham Carter. In one scene an angry mob will be made up of over a thousand Johnny Depps, Tim Burton’s ultimate fantasy. Speaking of which….
  • Johnny Depp overdose: Painting Johnny Depp some shade of pale and giving him stupid hair is not an idea.
  • All that weird Helena Bonham Carter/Johnny Depp crap: And what the hell is going on here? Not only is Johnny Depp 90% of the screen time for any Tim Burton project, he also has a romantic entanglement of some sort with Helena Bonham Carter in pretty much every film. The weird thing about that is that Helena Bonham Carter is Tim Burton’s common-law spouse, thereby lending credibility to the theory that Tim Burton, himself pale-ish and with stupid hair, is actually trying to live vicariously through Depp as some sort of weird, Hitchcock style on screen surrogate… Let’s all be honest with ourselves; if Tim Burton came home to find Johnny Depp in bed with Helena Bonham Carter, do you really think outrage would be his reaction? My guess is it would be more something along the lines of “Oh, is it six o’clock already? Sorry, guys, let me get my pervin’ chair and my reading glasses. Don’t let me slow you down, looks good.”
  • Alice in Wonderland: Wow, this movie. This was so, so horrible. I really can’t pardon this, it’s extraordinary. The movie acts as a semi-sequel, if you haven’t seen it, with Alice returning to Wonderland. What for? I guess to kill a dragon and fulfill a prophecy, or something. In other words, the most bland and recycled fantasy film storyline ever, but with Alice In Wonderland garbage smeared all over it, and then Tim Burtonified. Also, she get’s to pal around with her very best friend in the whole world, The Mad Hatter! Remember how tight those two were? No? That’s because they damn weren’t, not at all, but Tim Burton has painted Johnny Depp purple, gave him dumb hair and called him the Mad Hatter, so you know that role had to be expanded and transformed into something that could justify more Depp screen time.
  • The end of Dark Shadows: Dark Shadows isn’t a movie I was excited to see, because it basically looked like Tim Burton was actively crapping all over the source material and making some sort of vampire Austin Powers, but imagine my surprise when I watched it and found that the experience was much, much less excruciating than I anticipated… Until the end. Actually, before we get there, I need to point out that Chloe Moretz (the annoying, sneer faced little girl you’ll remember from such films as Kick Ass, and whatever the hell else she was in) is uncomfortably sexualized periodically throughout this film… And that’s creepier than anything Burton has ever done since Large Marge. F’ed up. Now, the end of the movie; the final act of Dark Shadows has the single worst thing I have ever seen in a movie ever… And I own the Traces of Death boxed set. I’ve watched Slaughtered Vomit Dolls. I’ve watched humans die on film, and that’s much less offensive, existentially, than what happens at the end of this movie. It’s a jaw dropper. Hold up, ~~~SPOILER ALERT~~~So, maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention, but from what I remember this came without any foreshadowing whatsoever; in the third act during the climactic battle between vampire Austin Powers and the witch lady, Chloe Moretz’s room is broken into, revealing her all furry and monster style. She yells “Get out!!” In a dumb monster voice, leaving the viewer to say “Oh, I guess she’s a monster?” A few moments later, she stomps down into the room that the main throw down is happening in, now clearly a werewolf of some kind, she turns to the camera which zooms up on her face, and she says, and I shit you not, “Yeah, I’m a werewolf, let’s not make a big deal out of it.”And that’s the single worst thing ever. It is so, so stupid. I can’t believe it ever got filmed. Forget the rest of the list if you like, This alone erases the glory of the 1989 Batman. Tim Burton did that. We should cram his ass in a wicker man and light that thing up, before he remakes The Wickerman with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. And that could happen at any time.

Fantastic Crap The Movie Casting Call; KROTAR!

I really wish I could make a Fantastic Crap/Architeuthis Joe movie, for a million reasons. If ever this were to happen, I’ve got a list of which actor I want for which character, as seen in previous inane and largely unread blogs on this wasteland of a blog page. Behold; my pic for Krotar, issue 3’s villain; non other than Ray Wise of Robocop and Twin Peaks fame. Some drawings of Krotar actually look a lot like Ray, we’d just paint him green and pop a big foam head on him. It would cost like, three bucks. If, for whatever reason we couldn’t get Ray Wise, my second choice would be Hugo Weaving, but the truth is that I’ve wanted Ray to play Krotar since I first made the character up way back around 1999.

Krotar"Jeepers Creepers 2" Los Angeles Premiere

How (and why) to say “Architeuthis Joe”

So, the character of Architeuthis Joe is much, much older than I’ve been making crude, pen on paper comics called Fantastic Crap since around 1998, and the character of Architeuthis Joe was introduced as a minor character, a sort of foil for an un-named pirate captain to hunt, in a short one page comic. I came up with the name ‘Architeuthis Joe’ Due to a misunderstanding of how to pronounce ‘Architeuthis Dux’, the Latin name for a species of giant squid (I’ve always been very interested in cryptozoology and monsters.) Thinking that ‘Dux’ was ‘Deux,’ the French word for ‘two’, I mispronounced it as “Dough,” which, of course, rhymes with “Joe.” Therefore, here we are years and years later, with a character founded on ignorance. How appropriate.

In related news, I just now, about ten minutes ago, realized I may have been saying “Architeuthis” wrong all these years also, which is significantly more upsetting. According to the internet, you don’t pronounce the ‘TH’ noise, substituting that with an ordinary ‘T’ sound. So…. I guess you say it “ARK-KAY-TOO-TIS.” Sounds stupid to me. I’ve BEEN saying it “ARK-I-TOO-THUS”, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s how Joe says it, too. So, chalk it up to regional dialect or something, according to me, and him, it is pronounced “ARK-I-TOO-THUS,” and that’s just the end of it.

Also, I’m really, really excited to spring new issues on you guys. I hope people enjoy what I’ve got cookin’. Issue 3 is already finished, issue 4 is nearly done, and I have issues 5,6, and part of 7 written, sketched and ready to rock when the time comes.

Comic Rocket! 2,000 likes!

Hello, everybody.

We’ve cruised by a new milestone on our Facebook page recently; at this time Fantastic Crap Comics has well over 2,000 likes on Facebook, which is truly wonderful. In addition, we will soon be joining the Comic Rocket family, and will be featured in their web comic database, so with any luck that will bring us more traffic and more readers, something I am again very pleased about.

We’re also about halfway through issue 2 right now, so I thought I’d give you a peek at the cover for issue 3 (It may undergo a few revisions before it goes up for real.)


I’d like to again say thanks to all the people and automated spam robots who frequent the crap out of this site. Thanks!

…AND there is more hillarious spam.

I just think these are all really funny.

This one comes from 32148 597 CHELSEA MUSTARD.

“Some people Used to Laugh at the japan – Nowadays I actually laugh at all of them”

Clearly, in Chelsea’s eyes the tables have turned, and The Japan now deserves respect. This next one is from グッチ長財布.

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I am very interested in the tactics employed by bag-professionals, especially when these tactics are aiding them to the rise.
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That one was a weird one… But luckily, the last one I have here is familiar territory again, this next one is from キプリング リュックサック;

“Tired of all men stories? I am on this site for your needs”

And there you have it. We definitely seem to be getting spammed by Asia more so than anyone else, for some reason.

Here’s another good one!

Here’s another awesome scam sent my way thanks to our good friend リーボック ポンプフューリー! リーボック ポンプフューリー says:

“japan will help all of us by integrating a number of distinctive features and functions. It is a unvaluable item for all fan of japan.”

Wow, great point, リーボック ポンプフューリ! It truly is an unvaluable item, whatever item it is that you’re talking about.

And so, these are the comments we’re getting, mostly. Solid!