As a few of my internet pals know, I like to do a yearly “Halloween project” that serves as an excuse to try out a new technique I’ve been learning, or as a chance to play around with some spooky/ oddball content that I (perhaps inexplicably) love.
This year I thought it would be fun to take a comic book ad that fascinated me as a kid, and try to bring it to life. The Moon Monster “Horror Fan Club” / “Monster Fan Club” ads first started showing up around 1970 to the delight of naïve and trusting children worldwide (note: perhaps in deference to the Comics Code the magazine ads read “Horror” and the comic book ads read “Monster”, despite the fact that the physical premiums themselves were all branded with “Horror Fan Club”). The package itself has been dissected and debunked in a number of places, but for a great overview I’d happily advise picking up a copy of “Mail Order Mysteries” by Kirk Demarais. If you have any interest in weird old comic book ephemera this really is the book for you (…and hey! The rest of Kirk’s stuff is totally worth your time as well!).
So after staring at Moon Monster ads while running through a slew of animation possibilities in my head for a few days, I finally decided that making a bogus commercial vaguely along the lines of what the hucksters behind this nonsense might have done back in the early 1970’s would be the most fun. So I wrote up a shouty script (using the ad copy for inspiration and the pacing of this classic spook show trailer for vibe), scanned my original Moon Monster poster out of a zillion separate pieces (he really IS giant) and then stitched everything back together in Photoshop at a printable resolution. I then cleaned up all of the fold marks and other noisy jive to create a final Moon Monster master that’s actually probably closer to the original art than what the horror kids of 1970 eventually found in their mailboxes.
After all of that was done I started in on the steps that would be necessary for animation. This meant separating and then reconstructing the elements that were covering each other up in the original (specifically the stuff that I wanted to have move: arms, claws, eyes, jaw, etc), coloring the black and white artwork using the various ads as a general guide, and then finally rigging the completed character in After Effects so that he could stomp and drool his way around his lunar home (and maybe… just maybe… into your heart.)
I was also getting a bunch of help from my talented friends and their families. The amazing Alex Cuervo (of Hex Dispensers and Espectrostatic fame — here’s another project that we worked on together) composed a perfectly era-appropriate soundtrack, Mr. Giovanni Dominice (you may know him as the winner of the Imperial Moustache Category at the 2011 World Beard and Moustache Championships, as well as a DJ/ Producer/ International Supervillain) contributed the bombastically spot-on voice over, and the families of Jaz Garewal, Desi Aragon, and Max Cannon all welcomed me into their lovely homes for the live action shoots (so likewise tons of thanks to adult spouses and child actors Yui, Lilly, Meghan, Aiden, Miles and Ian!)
In addition to making the commercial, I also figured it would be fun to provide high resolution downloads of all the files that came in the original Moon Monster packet so that people could just print out their own kits if they wanted. The only element you won’t find is the fan club bulletin (and that’s because I don’t have it myself — the image in the video came from monstermagazines.blogspot.com ), but maybe the internet will eventually offer up a full-rez scan, eh? Who knows!
…annnnnnd all of that brings us to the part that you probably came for in the first place:
PRINTING YOUR OWN MOON MONSTER PACKAGE
Printing the 4” x 5” glossy photos that the ad promised (which were actually neither 4” x 5” nor glossy — image-wise they were closer to 3.5” x 4.5” and arrived on flat matte paper) oughta be pretty easy. I’ve collected them here as three 8.5” x 10” files in either PDF, JPG or TIF formats, which means you can easily crank them out at home or at your favorite local/ online print shop (most online print services prefer that you upload PDF files, so if you’re going that route PDF will be your best bet). Then you can cut them out to hang in your locker at school, or maybe on that cork board over the desk in your bedroom. THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS!
Likewise those 3 ghastly and frightening “Monster Masks” (they were really just black-and-white photocopies of dime store Topstone masks on flat pieces of paper. BOO! SCARY!) should be a snap to make. Check my Flickr gallery for a preview of what you’ll be horrifying your friends with after you print these 8.5” x 10” TERRIFYING and LIFE LIKE REPRODUCTIONS OF MOVIE MONSTERS up.
I dunno who June Haley is, but back in 1970 she apparently ran the show when it came to all things involving horror and monsters. Good ol’ June Haley! Commanding the respect and dollars of ’70’s monster kids worldwide!
Here in 2014 a search for “cheap business cards” online ought to give you an idea of how inexpensive it’s going to be for you to easily remain a life time card-carrying member of the Horror Fan Club, while simultaneously keeping June’s name alive into the 21st century. Feel free to make 500 and distribute them at bus stops, taco shops and park benches! The world needs more Horror Fan Club members!
For the Horror Fan Club badge there are (again) a slew of options out in internet-ville, but I’ll say that I do dig the Busy Beaver Button Co. They’re supercool people and you can actually get FIFTY 1.25” inch full color buttons through them for only $30. FIFTY!
In fact to make things super easy for people who’d like to go the Busy Beaver route, I’ve also included a layered PSD file using one of their templates that has the (Sublime! Minimalist!) Horror Fan Club design dropped right into the proper spot. That means that you oughtta be passing those extra 49 buttons out to your fellow ghouls in no time!
As has been pretty well documented on the web, the original Moon Monster arrived as two folded 27” X 37” pieces that you would hang next to each other, creating the final 27” x 74″ result. In fact here’s a photo that I took of mine years ago, which should give you an idea of what those lucky ’70’s kids would be seeing on their bedroom and clubhouse walls after spending 100 pennies.
These days there are probably a countless number of great online and local print shop possibilities when it comes to making your very own GIANT! LIFE SIZE! Moon Monster, so I’m really only going to scratch the surface here in an effort to get folks going (please note: because most places offer stock sizes and the Moon Monster is kinda weird dimension-wise, all of the following options will require a bit of trimming once they’re done) —>
For high-quality large format poster printing, I’ve had great success with PrintKEG in the past. They printed up the movie posters that I use for my Catnip: Egress to Oblivion? short when it runs at film festivals (ahem, 2013 Audience Award winner at Sundance™), and they offer a variety of swell-looking and relatively inexpensive large poster options. To create your own heavyweight Moon Monster through them, I’d suggest printing two 27″ x 40″ posters on matte photo paper at $36.50 each/ $73 total:
On the other hand if you’d rather be the envy of everyone in your neighborhood by owning a one piece single poster Moon Monster, MegaPrint offer a 28” x 74” large format matte paper selection that would run you $95 total. SINGLE POSTER MOON MONSTER FOR THE 21ST CENTURY!!:
Still I know that this is all pretty pricey stuff. I mean for sure these solutions are going to be fantastic looking and all, but I suspect they’re probably also somewhat out of the dollar range that a lotta folks might be looking to blow here.
Which leads us to this article that I came across at the PetaPixel website highlighting a super cheap workaround for black and white art. In service of this I’ve created sliiiiiightly smaller versions (he’ll end up being 72” tall instead of 74”) of the two piece Moon Monster files here:
Using these, you can assemble our pal out of two 24” x 36” pieces printed on either “Poster Quality” paper (for $19.99 each/ $39.98 total) from Staples:
…or you can print his two halves up for the AMAZINGLY cheap price of just $3.89 each/ $7.78 total using the “Engineering Prints” option here:
…which is totally what I’d recommend for the casual Moon Monsterologist. For a preview of the quality, I’m more than happy to provide this slightly blurry photo of my cats arguing over who gets to sit on the Moon Monster. Double feline endorsement!
The Staples Engineering Prints are on kinda thin paper (maybe around a 20 lb weight) which can be a little tricky, but the original source for the PetaPixel link details a few ways of working with the results.
Staples printing tips: be sure to pick “portrait” and “fit content to paper” when you create your print order if you do it online (though because the files are so large you might have an easier time of it all if you bring them in to the store on a flash drive or something. When I tested the process the Staples software didn’t save my files with the order, so the copy guy ended up just snagging the PDFs out of my Dropbox folder to print from while I waited. This worked fine and took only a few minutes).
Judging by the EastCoastCreativeBlog user thread comments the quality seems to vary a bit as well, but for under $8 I dunno how you can go wrong really. I mean hey, for that price you can print 10 of them up and wallpaper your bathroom! You can print up 100 and cover an entire city block! LET THE PEOPLE OF EARTH KNOW THAT THE MOON MONSTERS ARE COMING!
Or hey, you can always just enjoy the video. It’s your call really.
MY HALLOWEEN PROJECTS
I try to make a new and fun Halloween project every year. If you’d like to check out any of the stuff that I’ve done before Mr. Moon Monster, here’s a handy list:
2004-2006: Scar Stuff blog site
2007: 1977 Centron Halloween Educational Film (that I transferred from 16mm and posted all over the place)
2007: 1985 Coronet Halloween Educational Film (that I transferred from 16mm and posted all over the place)
2011: Wade Denning and Kay Lande “Halloween” stop motion video (shot with an iPhone and the Hipstamatic app)
(This one wasn’t technically a Halloween project, but it IS an animated video using some delightfully Halloween-friendly subject matter drawn by one of my fa-vo-rite cartoonists around, Janelle Hessig. Based on a true story!)
Oh, and another spooky thing I did this year was to design Mike Howlett’s “The Worst of Eerie Publications” collection for Yoe Books
In fact I also cooked up a corresponding “Worst of Eerie Pubs” video promo that you can check out here.
And just for good measure, here’s my video Show Reel:
Thanks for dropping by, and if you’d like to hire me to work on YOUR project please don’t hesitate to hit me on up!