This would be the place where I give credit where credit's due...To the artists who inspired (and continue to inspire)
me, and to the movie monsters of old.
This will also be where you'll find a bit more about the origins and the names of the Salem Uncommons cast....
First, the artists:
The first person I credit for my love of cartooning has to be Charles Schulz, creator of 'Peanuts'.
Some of my first television memories are of the old Charlie Brown holiday specials. In my second grade classroom,
there were a few books that were collections of older Peanuts strips. I spent a lot of time drawing his characters when
I was little. At one point I wrote him a fan letter, asking to work for him (I was about 8 at the time), and I still
have the autographed drawing I got in return.
Sure, Peanuts are fairly simple and quaint by today's standards, but they will always have a nostalgic place in my heart.
Next up is Jim Davis:
Jim Davis is the creator of Garfield. And although it maybe hard to recall now, when Garfield first appeared in
papers, he was cool and very funny. At a time when the papers were full of very G rated animals like Marmaduke
and Heathcliff, Garfield was a sarcastic and occasionally sadistic character (I don't think he kicks Odie the dog off of ledges
I spent a lot of time drawing Garfield and Odie, and they had a big influence on my cartooning style. 'Jack'
is actually a direct descendant of Odie:
A) This is pretty much how Jim Davis originally drew Odie.
B) I used the basic Odie shape for a lot of dinosaurs I drew in 8th grade.
C) Those dinosaurs lead to the character of Clyde the Dragon, who I created in high school. Clyde would pop up
all around the school accompanied by the phrase 'Clyde the Dragon Sez...' (some creative phrase)
D) Clyde was modified a bit for a comic I did for a friend of mine, and became The Orange Stegosaurus.
E) Finally we have the most recent customization with Jack.
The next three men were the creators of strips that greatly influenced my style of writing and my sense of humor.
These strips were all brilliant, and if I can ever get a fraction of the talent these gentlemen possess, I'd be a very lucky
Gary Larson, creator of 'The Far Side':
Bill Watterson, creator of 'Calvin and Hobbes':
And Berkeley Breathed, creator of 'Bloom County':
Finally, I cannot leave out Frank Miller. Miller is a comic book writer/artist, most famous for his works 'Batman:
The Dark Knight Returns' and 'Sin City'. His work on the comic book 'Daredevil' is actually what got me into reading
comic books. I fell in love with his artwork, and taught myself to draw more 'serious' style comics by copying several
of his books from cover to cover. His style isn't something that will really be evident in Salem Uncommons, but
his influence is always with me.
And now for my love of horror, the other influence that lead to the creation of Salem Uncommons.
When I was little, before the days when this would qualify as child abuse, I used to love watching 'Chiller'
and 'Creature Double Feature'. Both programs were on Saturday afternoons and featured old Universal horror films, a
few Hammer Horror films from the UK, and a variety of the Japanese giant monster movies. While I enjoyed them
all, the Universal films were something special. I got sucked right into them...I wasn't seeing actors and primitive
special effects, I was seeing something from another time and place. It never even occurred to me (at the time) that
Dracula and Frankenstein were not dwelling in real far away castles. And it would be an understatement to
say that Dr Frankenstein's lab blew my mind.
My love of horror continues to this day. I have a lot of nostalgic memories of going to every new Friday
the 13th film with my friends in the 80's. I briefly considered a career in horror special effects, but the old creative
methods I loved were mostly replaced by CGI.
So, of course, we have the classic characters who inspired the Salem Uncommons crew:
First, we have Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula, from the movie 'Dracula' (1931). Although there have been several
actors who have portrayed the Count (Christopher Lee and Gary Oldman among my favorites), Lugosi will always be the one most
associated with the character. The character Lou's name is a take on Lugosi's last name.
Boris Karloff did an amazing job playing the monster in 'Frankenstein', 'Bride of Frankenstein' and 'Son of Frankenstein'.
He brought an amazing amount of feeling and pathos to what could've easily been a one dimensional character. 'Karl',
obviously, gets his name from Karloff. The look of the Frankenstein monster, which is nothing like the description
of the monster in the original book, is forever linked to the character and is trademarked by Universal studios.
When designing Karl, I tried to make him recognizable as the Frankenstein monster, but different enough that he doesn't
violate Universal's trademark (I hope...)
Of course, part of the inspiration for Karl comes from this gentleman:
(Fred Gwynne as Herman Munster)
And of course, the monster has his bride (Elsa Lanchester). Is it wrong that I had a young crush on this
monster? Karl's shrewish bride has shown up only once so far, but she kind of looks like a cross between the classic
Bride, a Far Side character, and Marge Simpson.
Here we have Lon Chaney Jr, playing his signature role as Larry Talbot, aka The Wolf Man. Chaney was fantastic
at playing the long suffering Talbot. 'Lonnie' is named after Chaney.
The Creature From the Black Lagoon was a late addition to the pantheon of great Universal monsters. I loved the
design of the costume, and the amazing underwater photography.
It's notoriously hard to design a half fish/half man character and not have it look like a Creature rip off or really
For Salem Uncommons, I decided not to try to make a knock off of the Creature's look, and just go with an original look.
The character gets his name from Jack Arnold, the man behind the Creature From the Black Lagoon.
There has been one fantastic updated version of the Creature:
From the 80's movie 'The Monster Squad'
And this is where Dr Jeff gets his look, from the movie 'Return of the Fly'. The good doctor's name is a
nod to Jeff Goldblum, star of the 80's remake of 'The Fly'.
Now, to be honest, I'm not sure which Mummy movie this was from (not a big Mummy fan...), but that is the great Boris
Karloff under there. Oops name isn't taken from anything special, but just had to have a mummy in the mix.
(EDIT: Oops, my mistake...That's Lon Chaney Jr in there. The pic is from 'The Mummy's Ghost')
Of course, this cartoon series from my youth has a bit of influence on Salem Uncommons as well...
This is a zombie, in case you didn't know...
And this is George Romero, the father of the modern zombie film. His 'Night of the Living Dead' redefined zombie
movies and created a new genre. George the zombie is named after him.
Geeg is basically a combination of these two guys, the Alien from 'Alien' and E.T.
Geeg is named after the artist H.R Giger (pronounced like Geeg-er), the designer of the Alien from 'Alien'.
Finally we have Tommy, our resident slasher. Although he talks, he's my stand in for the Jasons and Michael Meyers
of the world. I thought it would be fun to make him kind of the new kid in the monster club, the slasher being a relatively
recent addition to a crew of otherwise classic old monsters.
His name comes from two sources:
The rather intense looking gentleman at the top is Tom Savini. He's the horror special effects guru who designed
'Jason' for the original Friday the 13th and Friday pt 4 (as well as creating all the creative killings)
On the bottom, we have Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman), the only character other than Jason to have a recurring role in
multiple Friday the 13th films, and the only character to actually kill Jason.
And lastly, we have my friend Tina (with Tom Savini). Tina kind of inspired me to do all this. She's the
inspiration for the character of Tina. She doesn't live in Salem in real life, but she should...