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All you geek rejoice! This upcoming Saturday, May 4th means two things. We not only have the annual Free Comic Book Day, but also Star Wars Day.

Although technically the very first Star Wars installment premiered on May 25th, 1977, it hasn’t stopped dedicated Star Wars fans to choose May 4th as its commemorative day. “May the fourth be with you” as it is told.

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As of this blog post, Ben and me were discussing actor Peter Mayhew. He’s the British 7 feet tall three inches actor who portrayed Chewbacca, one of the most beloved characters in the Star Wars universe. His family broke the news via Twitter about Mayhew’s recent passing.

Chatting about the world’s most famous Wookie, I relayed my own Chewbacca story. It’s both amusing, yet sad with a slight sprinkle of Hollywood Babylon.

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Chewbacca realizes Han Solo needs help for his gambling addiction. Originally drawn in 2014 for Sketch Lottery, by Michele Witchipoo.

It was the year 2007. The setting was at the second annual New York Comic Con. I was walking around the Javitis Center with another friend, Mario. We found ourselves upstairs in the autograph section. Our purpose was to locate the three top winners of the SyFy Channel program “Who Wants To Be A Superhero.” As someone who usually despises reality shows, “Superhero” was one of the rare exceptions. So as Mario and me sought out Major Victory, Fat Momma and Feedback, we glanced over at the other celebrities. There was actress Hayden Panettiere from the then-popular show Heroes. Her signing price was, at the time, $100. That was considered a lot for autographs back then. Since 2007, pop culture autographs have become more lucrative. Charging $100 and up is now standard for actors like Mark Hamill, David Tennant, Matt Smith and Jason Momoa. Anyhow, before all the A-list actors jumped onto the John Handcock racket, autograph signings were formerly reserved for washed-up celebrities.

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This is where Gary Coleman comes in.

If you grew up during the late ’70s and early ’80s, then surely you must remember the American TV sitcom “Different Strokes.” Gary Coleman was the breakout star. Unfortunately, once the network canceled the comedy, Coleman’s career was never the same. When Coleman’s star fell, it fell pretty bad. The actor tried everything. I even remember Coleman pretty much grasping for straws when he tried to become a rapper. It was a very short-lived venture. My accidental discovery happened during my late teens. Having yet another insomniac moment. Couldn’t sleep, so I turned on the television. Since I lived in the NYC outer borough of Queens, we were stuck without cable. No MTV, no HBO, no nothing. Which meant there was nothing to watch but filler. Local station programming consisted of forgotten ’60s syndicated shows, Time/Life info-commercials, ads for the Jessica Hahn party line, and rejected talk shows. The latter is where Gary Coleman wound up with his rap act.

Below are two videos to prove I’m not making this up:

(Below is an example what I had, living in Queens, NYC late ’80s/early ’90s. Late night TV. Sans cable. We got stuck with this bullshit.)

It got worse as time went on. Turns out Gary Coleman was broke because his own foster parents and former manager stole most of his money. Despite a judge ruling in Coleman’s favor later on, the only work he could secure was as a security guard. His fate seemed to be resigned to supermarket tabloid articles along with the occasional self-deprecating appearances. His health problems didn’t fare any better. Coleman suffered from congenital kidney disease causing nephritis (an autoimmune destruction of the kidney). This stunted his growth from an early age. Up until his death he required daily dialysis. This was additionally compounded by his anger management problems.

So back to 2007. We’re at the second annual New York Comic Con. Mario quickly turns to me, stammering “Ohmigod, don’t turn around!”

Me: “Why?”

Mario: “That’s Gary Coleman! I can’t look at him! Don’t look at him! I’m going to laugh…”

After we both snicker, I look over Mario’s shoulder. Sure enough, there was Gary Coleman, sitting in a booth. He was hawking autographs. The actor was trying to put on a friendly face, but nobody was lining up for his signature.

Suddenly commotion ensues. A whole crowd of rabid Star Wars cosplayers and fans rush past us. It wasn’t a stampede, yet as they sped, we swore we felt out hair blow back. Our spot was soon crowded with these fanatics, overcome with glee. They surround a very tall man as if he was a demigod.

“Who’s that?” Mario asked someone.

“That’s the guy who played Chewbacca” was the response.

Various Stormtroopers practically dance around this man as if they were Ewoks from Return of The Jedi. More people approach this impromptu homecoming. It casts a dark shadow upon Gary Coleman’s booth. In their rejoicing, the Star Wars fans inadvertently eclipse Coleman. It was as if Coleman didn’t even exist. This was a comic book convention after all. Upstaging wasn’t Peter Mayhew’s intention. This didn’t matter to Coleman. The man of 4ft and 8 inches looked visibility upset. Mario and I silently watched as Coleman chomp down on his hot dog, garnished with a painful mixture of anger and sadness.

Mario shares his observation: “Wow. He bit into that hot dog with such bitterness…” 

After watching the Star Wars fans worship the original Chewbacca for another few minutes, we walked off to find the winners of “Who Wants To Be A Superhero.” Left behind was the clashing juxtaposition of Chewbacca and Arnold Jackson. Ironically, those two characters were symbols of my ’70s childhood.

We all know about what became of the Star Wars franchise after 2007. In fact, I saw Last Jedi twice during its theatrical release. Last Jedi has become my personal favorite next to the original trilogy. Rouge One was also fantastic. Just recently I caught Han Solo on Netflix. Star Wars has outgrown and will outlive George Lucas. Regardless of how Disney currently handles the Star Wars property, it’s become part of the American storytelling mythos. It’s just like the retelling of ancient folktales from various cultures, such as Norse, Celtic, Greek, Egyptian, Japanese, Indian, English, African, Buddhist, Jewish, Islamic, Christian, Pre-Christian/Pagan, etc. Only substitute them with various stories from the Star Wars universe, along with classic Marvel and DC characters.

After NYCC 2007, I heard another personal Gary Coleman antidote. It from my other friend Bejay. So I mention seeing Coleman at the comic con. Bejay tells me that he met the actor once. It was during Bejay’s time as a party promoter. Gary Coleman complimented Bejay on his Club Kid platforms. Unlike Mario, Bejay expressed more compassion for Coleman: “I felt sorry for him…”  Gary Coleman passed away in 2010. On April 30th 2019, Peter Mayhew, aka, the original Chewbacca also passes away. He was 74.

On May 2nd, 2019, I talk to Ben about the time I saw Chewbacca and Gary Coleman at NYCC 2007.

Me: “…so that’s my Chewbacca story. It’s both funny and sad…”

Ben, as he refers to Gary Coleman while having a horrified expression upon his face: “…That’s kinda depressing!”

May the fourth be with you.

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Chewbacca. Drawn with a portable Pentel ink brush, other with other art pens. Michele Witchipoo. May 2019.

 

 

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A few weeks ago, I finally had the chance to check out the Hilma af Klint exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum. This was also my first time ever visiting the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, famously known for being designed by architect, artist and educator Frank Lloyd Wright.

It was a subway ad that caught my eye. Such an curiosity hasn’t happened since discovering Salvador Dali in my adolescence, and later Hieronymus Bosch in my late teens. Since I’m talking about artists, might as well throw William Blake, Austin Osman Spare, Brion Gysin and Marjorie Cameron into the mix.

During my teens after school, there was a chance sighting of Andy Warhol walking around the east 50’s area of Manhattan. He was wearing an extremely costly leather jacket, while carrying a shopping bag from some boutique. A few months later, Warhol passed away.

Back to Klint. I picked early Saturday evening as the day to attend. Particularly due to Saturdays being “pay-what-you-wish” admission at the Guggenheim. Especially when rent is too damn high in NYC.

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Circling around the spiral building, the attendee saw the evolution of Klint‘s work. Her early interests dealt with mathematics and botany. Klint became a respected artist. After graduating art school, she became know for doing portraiture and landscapes. The abstract compositions developed after 1880. After her sister’s death, she got involved with Spiritism. This coincided with the growing movement of Madame Blavatsky’s Theosophy and her enthusiasm regarding Christian Rosenkreuz. Along the way, Klint met Rudolf Steiner. With Anna Cassel, she joined a group of female artists called ‘The Five.’ The Five (de Fem) conducted paranormal and spiritistic séances.

Enough talk. Here’s photos of the exhibit. The paintings, notebooks, sketches and such contain much symbolism. The exhibit itself ended April 23rd, 2019.

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In between checking out Klint’s art, there was also another exhibit featuring Robert Mapplethrope. Took a quick peek through that section. However, time was limited so I scurried back to the Klint floors. Figured it’ll give me another excuse to drop by the Guggenheim again.

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Back to checking out the final sections of Klint. There was also cases of documented work. Even the library had cases of Klint.

 

 

 

 

The Hilma af Klint exhibition was the most popular in the museum’s 60 year history.

Other links:

https://www.galeriemagazine.com/romanov-rockefeller-emerald/

https://hyperallergic.com/496326/hilma-af-klint-breaks-records-at-the-guggenheim-museum/

http://www.artnews.com/2019/04/18/guggenheims-hilma-af-klint-survey-is-most-popular-show-in-its-history/

https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-swedish-mystic-hilma-af-klint-invented-abstract-art

https://www.modernamuseet.se/stockholm/en/exhibitions/hilma-af-klint-2/about-the-artist/

https://www.hilmaafklint.se/hilma-af-klint-foundation/

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Originally created this when I was putting together Babalon Babes issue 4. Otherwise known as the Astrology issue, I drew this around mid-late 2009.

After watching news footage of Japan, I remembered this piece. So I’ve posted this up in honor of that country.

Gemini. Draw by Michele Witchipoo, late 2009. Originally self-published in Babalon Babes issue 4 (Astrology Issue)

It’s a mixture of the Thoth (Crowley/Lady Frieda) tarot deck, and the old Godzilla movies. Today some of you kids call it a “mash-up.”

Since the Lovers represents Gemini, I took elements from that card. In the background you can see Godzilla and Mothra. As in “Mothra Vs. Godzilla.

Now some people are probably wondering – “What the hell does Godzilla and Mothra have to do with Gemini?”

I’ll explain. Do you see the twin girls in the front of the illustration? They were known as The Shobijin. The Shobijin could be described as deities, priestesses or faeries who would call to Mothra with either song or prayer. The twin imagery also corresponds to the Gemini sign. The twins is the symbol for Gemini, and it’s element is air. The twins shown here communicate to Mothra with words and song. Air signs deal with communication.

As for Mothra and Godzilla…sometimes they are allies, sometimes they are in conflict with each other. A contradiction of sorts, which can describe Geminis a bit.

In March 2011, I recalled doing this piece. Seeing Japan with the tsunami effects and the nuclear crisis, figured I would post this. It’s not only my tribute to the Japanese monster movie genre, but to Japan as a whole.

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Howdy folks!

It’s been a minute since I’ve updated this blog. Not that you’ve been waiting in anticipation or anything like that. A-hem.

Since ‘cult’, ‘midnight’, ‘exploitative’, or ‘grindhouse’ films rock my world, I decided to share my love with you.

Back when MySpace was the number one time waster (three years ago), I used to post a Babalon Babes and Psycho Bunny pic of the week. It was something that I’ve enjoyed a lot. Unfortunately in 2007, thanks to life’s little curve balls, got sidetracked. Tried to start this up again in 2008, but by then everyone and their mother moved over to Facebook. I’m just as guilty, so check out my group on Facebook: facebook comic con/michele witchipoo. Basically MySpace became the Norma Desmond of the internet. Just like in the 1950 flick Sunset Boulevard, she waits patiently for her last closeup.

Speaking of movie madness, I’m going to try something different; a movie trailer of the week.

Here’s a trailer from the year 1973. The same year that brought us Deep Throat, Roe Vs. Wade, An American Family, Dark Side of The Moon, and Watergate. The same year that NYC celebrated the opening of the World Trade Center, and 42nd street grindhouse was in full swing. This film opened in 1973 as well. Perhaps not as historic, but hey. To be perfectly honest, I haven’t seen this film either. My guess is that like others, the trailer is usually more entertaining than the movie itself. Here goes; Cannibal Girls!

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