Jason Willis

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Moon Mon­ster — Ani­mated Hor­ror Fan Club Spot (Comic Book Ad, 1970) from Jason Willis on Vimeo.

BACKSTORY:

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.

(Click here for a list of pre­vi­ous projects.)

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!)

Aiden and Desi’s Moon Mon­ster Outtakes/ Super Edit from Jason Willis on Vimeo.

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!

Exter­nal link to Flickr set.

…annnnnnd all of that brings us to the part that you prob­a­bly came for in the first place:

PRINTING YOUR OWN MOON MONSTER PACKAGE

PHOTOS:

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!

PHOTOS (3 FILES) • PDF
PHOTOS (3 FILES) • TIF
PHOTOS (3 FILES) • JPG

MASKS:

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.

MASKS (3 FILES) • PDF
MASKS (3 FILES) • TIF
MASKS (3 FILES) • JPG

MEMBERSHIP CARD:

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!

MEMBERSHIP CARDPDF
MEMBERSHIP CARDTIF
MEMBERSHIP CARD • JPG

BADGE:

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!

Busy Beaver But­ton Co Web­site Link

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!

BADGE FILES (SINGLE ZIP, MULTI FORMAT) • PSD/TIF/JPG

MOOOOOOON MONNNNNNSTERRRRR!

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) —>

$$$ (Sorta expensive/ High qual­ity)

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:

Print­KEG Web­site Link

27” x 40” (x2) FILESPDF
27” x 40” (x2) FILESTIF
27” x 40” (x2) FILES • JPG

$$$$ (Most expensive/ High qual­ity)

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!!:

MegaPrint Web­site Link

28” x 74” SINGLE FILEPDF
28” x 74” SINGLE FILETIF
28” x 74” SINGLE FILE • JPG

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.

$$ (Cheap-ish) and $ (TOTALLY CRAZY CHEAP!)

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:

24” x 36” (x2) FILESPDF
24” x 36” (x2) FILESTIF
24” x 36” (x2) FILES • JPG

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:

Sta­ples: “Poster Qual­ity” Web­site Link

…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:

Sta­ples: “Engi­neer­ing Prints” Web­site Link

…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.

Happy Hal­loween!

Jason


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:

Hal­loween Project Pre­his­tory:
2001/2001: “Spook Party” and “Ghoul-Arama” give­away CDs (as men­tioned by Wil Wheaton in 2012! That’s right! I’m still excited about that!)

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)

Yearly Hal­loween Video Projects:

2011: Wade Den­ning and Kay Lande “Hal­loween” stop motion video (shot with an iPhone and the Hip­sta­matic app)
2014: Janelle Hes­sig “Wolf Bait“

(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!)

And just for good mea­sure, here’s my video Show Reel:

Jason Willis: Show Reel from Jason Willis on Vimeo.

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!