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Mind Your Business: Uncle Creepy is BAAAACK!

Mark Simon reminisces about Creepy Magazine and Uncle Creepy.

Mark Simon can be creepy with Uncle Creepy. All Uncle Creepy images copyright NCC 2009.

Are you old enough to remember Eerie Magazine? Then your hair is sliding off your head and down your back and you probably also remember Creepy Magazine and Uncle Creepy. Not old enough? Good news, Creepy is back and your hair will probably stay in place for a while.

Creepy Magazine was a great collection of black and white horror stories in the 1960’s. Cover art was produced by such greats as Frazetta, Williamson, Crandall, Evans, Angelo Torres, Gray Morrow, Joe Orlando, John Severin and others.

In 2007, a group of investors lead by Craig Haffner founded New Comic Co. bought the rights to Creepy and Eerie Magazines. They have started releasing hardbound archive editions in a partnership with Dark Horse. In July 2009 the new Creepy Comic #1 was released.

Creepy Comic #1 cover.

Haffner wanted to have a video teaser of Creepy at ComicCon to draw attention. “As a fan of Ray Harryhausen and having first worked with the Chiodo brothers 25 years ago, I approached them to produce an animation for us.”

The Chiodo Bros are also fans of Harryhausen and are masters of stop motion animation. You will recognize their work as the producers of the classic Killer Klowns from Outer Space, the puppet producers on Team America and the stop motion producers in Will Ferrell’s hit movie Elf.

The brothers, Stephen, Charlie and Edward, were all fans of Creepy Magazine in the 60’s. “It was a horror/monster Twilight Zone magazine, an anthology of horror and science fiction with Uncle Creepy as Rod Serling,” says Stephen Chiodo.

Stephen directed the Uncle Creepy short. “We all felt strongly that stop motion was the best technique for Uncle Creepy’s world. Both Uncle Creepy and stop motion were from an era of traditional storytelling and film making styles. Stop motion has a hand made, textural quality and charm similar to the classic monster movies we all loved.”

Stephen decided to shoot all the elements in layers against a green screen and composite them together in post. Notice in Figure 3 the how the various foreground and background set elements are on separate, moveable tables. This allowed the animators to work on the puppet without any set obstructions.

The set for Uncle Creepy was shot in layers on green screen to give the animators more room to work.

The set for Uncle Creepy was shot in layers on greenscreen to give the animators more room to work.

Uncle Creepy's armature allowed full manipulation of facial features.

Working with Stephen, who also sculpted the Uncle Creepy character, were John Deall who built the armature, Frank Ippolito who cast and painted the hands and head and Terry Fluker who fabricated the costume.

For a more life-like look for Uncle Creepy, they chose silicone instead over the normal foam rubber. The head armature was built with ball and socket paddles so they had full control over the facial features during animation.

For the rest of the production, Stephen’s brother Charles and Rick O’Brien built the set. Justin Kohn edited the opening shot in four days and Kent Burton (Coraline) animated the end shot in three days. Stephen did the compositing in After Effects and brother Edward did the editing and post.

So what is all this leading up to? One of the best stop motion pieces I’ve seen. It’s incredible. Go to CreepyUniverse.com to see Uncle Creepy come to life in glorious stop motion animation.

What else is in the works for Haffner and Uncle Creepy? His plan is to begin working on a series of 3:00 shorts for web and mobile featuring the Creepy family which will then lead into a Creepy television series.

Mark Simon is an award-winning animation director. He is hosting the Hit Makers Summit Sept. 19-21, a three-day event to perfect your TV pitch. Register at www.HitMakersSummit.com.

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