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Posts Tagged ‘pop culture sketches’

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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The pop culture website Sketch Lottery is no more. So I’m taking some of my past contributions and re-posting my sketches here. Here’s Grover, a popular Sesame Street character, done in a Rockabilly style. Originally created in 2017. Always thought this rendition was cute.  At least here he doesn’t have a thing for chickens.

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Grover, a classic Sesame Street character, re-imagined as a Rockabilly dude. Originally done for Sketch Lottery in 2017. Drawn by Michele Witchipoo. 

This week has been busy. Although there’s been a few Psycho Bunny weekly sketches completed, I haven’t had a chance to scan them. Therefore the Psycho Bunny sketch of the week might be postponed until next week. If it’s not posted by tonight, then next week I will continue where it was left over. See you then.

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Recently I discovered that Sketch Lottery is no more. So I’m re-posting my Sketch Lottery’s “greatest hits.” Here’s a mash-up of SpongeBob doing Clockwork Orange. Originally done back in 2017.

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Mash-up of SpongeBob doing Clockwork Orange. Drawn by Michele Witchipoo. Originally posted on the Sketch Lottery website, 2017. 

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A few weeks back I attended the Culture Club and The B-52s concert over at Forest Hills stadium. It wasn’t my first seeing both of these acts live. It was more that both groups were such a part of my early teen years, and that it was right in my own backyard in Queens, NY.

When I was about 11 or 12, I brought the first B-52s album. I was the first kid on the block to have that record, and most likely the only one. It was early ’80’s in lower working class Queens. I was considered the school weirdo. Having this album only solidified my case. Not that I really cared.

When my friend used to come over, I introduced her to Rock Lobster. I made her wear old wigs dug out from my mother’s closet, which my mom wasn’t too happy about. I wasn’t happy because the wigs weren’t styled like in beehive hairdos. In my bedroom we pretended to be Kate and Cindy, wearing mom’s old forgotten wigs. We danced to most of the songs on side one, because vinyl still ruled in those days. That album cover is still pretty iconic to me.

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Eventually I grew out of The B-52s. By the time “Love Shack” hit the charts, I was more into Post Punk, Goth, Industrial and anything non mainstream.

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Concert attendee at the Culture Club/B-52s show at Forest Hills stadium. Sat. July 28th, 2018. Photo by Michele Witchipoo.

Fast forward to July 2019 in Forest Hills stadium. (Wasn’t the band’s first time. The B-52s played Forest Hills stadium back in 1983. Most of the crowd was dancing to such classics like ’52 Girls’, ‘Planet Claire’, and what surprised me was ‘Mesopotamia.’ Of course they played ‘Love Shack’ and ‘Roam.’ You can see their set list here.

Thus leads to the first of the two latest sketches of the week. Decided to throw in two instead of one, due to last week’s absence.

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Psycho Bunny’s friends as The B-52s. Based on the comic written and drawn by Michele Witchipoo on WitchesBrewPress. Aug. 2018.

After The B-52s came Culture Club. I’ve mentioned dressing like the two women from The B-52s. However, it was the arrival of Boy George that took it from the bedroom to public display. I began to copy the Boy’s look. While going to class, I wore the hat, the baggy clothes, etc. Even had his dance moves down. Once again, I was the first kid on the block to embrace Boy George and crew. Also one of the very few. Boy George wasn’t very popular in the junior high I attended. In fact, that’s when I experienced homophobia.

Dressing like Boy George gave people the impression that they could insult me. Everyday I heard nasty remarks from other schoolmates such as “You know he’s gay, right?” “Why do you like him? He’s a man dressed like a woman!” “Boy George is a fag!” “Fag lover!!!” “You look like a freak!” “Hahahaha….” It was usually followed by “Why don’t you be normal, and listen to Michael Jackson like the rest of us?” Which led to my distaste of anything remotely related to Michael Jackson. To this day, if I hear just a few notes from a Jackson song, it makes me nauseous. I just equate Michael Jackson to general hypocrisy. Jackson is dead, and I still can’t stand the guy. It’s not his fault. It was my junior high classmates. The association. His music and image still reminds me of everything fake in today’s pop culture.

Because of all this rude behavior, it influenced me to look beyond my immediate Queens surroundings. I applied for those magnet high schools just to get away from all those rotten close minded classmates. Eventually I got accepted into the High School of Art and Design. Thanks to Art & Design, it lead me straight into a path of downtown Manhattan subculture, discovering Greenwich Village, stumbling upon small import record shops, cool clothing stores, and of course, Punk and Goth. Thus my high school years fared a helluva lot better than junior high.

I’ll never forget when word came out that I was not heading towards that local war zone, Byrant High School. Some guy quipped “oh, so you’re not going to the same high school as everyone else? What’s the matter? You’re too good for us now?”

Uh actually, when I think about it…yeah.

Not going to Byrant was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. From what I heard years later, my suspicions were all confirmed. Thanks, but no thanks. This should explain my misanthropy.

‘ “Why does everybody gets so excited when we go back into the past? It just amazes me. It’s just metaphorical.” ‘ – Boy George during the Culture Club concert at Forest Hills stadium, New York. Saturday July 28th, 2018. 

But high school is high school, and life is a lot more than that. It’s still nice to reflect, take in some nostalgia, acknowledge your influences. To be ruled by the past though, is a prison you don’t want to be trapped in. Boy George definitely didn’t want to relive his past. In fact, most of the songs on the Culture Club set list was more like a rock and soul revue than Culture Club’s greatest hits. The opening song was a cover of David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.” Fret not, they still did some of their greatest hits.

‘ “We’re a living, breathing soap opera. The amount of collective drama on this stage would kill a beginner.” ‘ Boy George during the Culture Club set at Forest Hills Stadium, Saturday July 28th, 2018. 

I appreciated that Culture Club didn’t want to rest of their retro laurels. Boy George himself waxed philosophically that night on the Forest Hills stage. He came across as intelligent and witty. There were times you sensed that he’s acknowledged lessons learned from his past experiences. This was evident with their recent single “Let Somebody Love You.” You never would’ve guessed he assaulted a male escort back in 2009. Then there was the time when he rebuked my friend’s request for an autograph that was meant to be for his mother. His mother was in her final stages of MS.

 Oh that Boy George. He’s such a Gemini.

Despite his shitty transgressions, I will always be thankful for his influence upon my life. It was a positive influence. His public image taught me that it was okay to think outside the box, to be yourself. If it wasn’t for him, Siouxsie Sioux, Joan Jett, Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, and David Bowie, my outlook might’ve been very different. Probably a lot more bleak.

While I did accomplish a lot, I’m still residing in Queens. For now anyway. As someone who once wanted to ‘escape’ Queens, it’s now become the complete opposite. No thanks to the overall gentrification of NYC. I’ve learned to appreciate all the different cultures within my borough. Manhattan just isn’t the same anymore. Let’s not even talk about what happened with Brooklyn. The Bronx and Staten Island is too far away from everything. So Queens is where I stay. For now.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you. Here’s part two of the Psycho Bunny sketch of the week. Psycho Bunny as classic Boy George.

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Psycho Bunny as Boy George from Culture Club. Based on the comic written and drawn by Michele Witchipoo on WitchesBrewPress. August 2018.

The very next day after the B52s and Culture Club gig, I went to see Slayer over at Jones Beach, Long Island, NY. Talk about one extreme to the other. That will be discussed in next week’s blog post.

…and now. Memorize these social media links:

Facebook: pages for Psycho Bunny and for Michele Witchipoo – WitchesBrewPress.

 Twitter: One account for me, and one for Psycho Bunny.

Tumblr: World Ov Witchipoo

Instagram: there’s WitchipooArt.

Get yourself some cool stuff on RedBubble, featuring my designs. There’s dresses, tee shirts, notebooks, etc. The notebooks, and the Quentin Crisp tees seems to be one of the best selling items. Just in time for Pride.

One of my hobbies is documenting what goes riding the NYC subway lines: Wildlife On The MTA. Cause if you can’t laugh, you’ll cry. MTA passengers know what I’m talking about. Even better: My WildlifeOnTheMTA Instagram is active once again.

Come back next week for a new Psycho Bunny sketch. Remember to bring in good karma.

 

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Starting from June 1st to August 31st, Sketch Lottery is having a free-for-all. Basically for summer 2018, draw any of the past Sketch Lottery subjects. Which meant I finally had a chance to sketch Alf.

Alf had this thing where he ate cats. So it’s only fitting that Alf met his match with Grumpy Cat.

 I met Grumpy Cat once. During the summer of 2014. A Barnes and Noble book signing, located in the Union Square area of downtown Manhattan, NYC. Tartar Sauce (Grumpy Cat’s real name) was asleep. Tartar Sauce’s human liked my shirt. Here’s a photo of me when I was platinum blond. Before I went with my signature blue hair.

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Posting with Tartar Sauce, better known as Grumpy Cat. June 3rd, 2014, Barnes and Noble book signing/meet and greet. Union Square (Manhattan) location.

Anyway, back to the sketch. Originally I was going to ink the piece, but liked how the pencil work was coming along. So I kept it just the way it was. Really like this one a lot. Besides. Grumpy Cat is sort of like my spirit animal.

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Alf meet Grumpy Cat. As seen on Sketch Lottery. Pencil art by Michele Witchipoo, July 2018.

You can see my sketch, along with other sketches on Sketch Lottery.

 

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Here’s my latest contribution to the Sketch Lottery site. SpongeBob Squarepants meets Clockwork Orange. SpongeDroog.

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As seen on Sketch Lottery. Drawn by Michele Witchipoo Feb. 2017. 

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My rendition of Snoopy has been posted on Sketch Lottery. Mixed him up a bit with another popular character. Guess which one – well click on the link and find out. Good grief!

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Snoopy Drawn for Sketch Lottery Dec. 2016 by Michele Witchipoo. 

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