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Archive for the ‘pop culture’ Category

Ever had a song you’ve heard your whole life stuck in your head?

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This was the case maybe around two years ago. I was in my local neighborhood, doing some shopping. The store radio was tuned to the local NY oldies station, WCBS.FM. Suddenly a song I’ve been hearing in the background which dates all the way back to my childhood comes on. Afterwards the DJ states the song title and the artist. Finally after all these years, I found out who did this exact song. The singer was Benny Mardones, and the song was titled “Into The Night.”

I go home, hit Google and Spotify. Then I mosey on over to YouTube.

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Oh my.

Like, where do I start? Perhaps the first question really should be – who the hell thought this video would be a good idea? For those who have no idea what the hell I’m talking about, which I’m guessing is the Zoomer/Gen Z crowd, allow me to show you this:

Hmmm…yeah. In the promo video, he stalks a teenage girl after her father clearly says “NO!“,  and it’s so obvious that he’s like, way older than his intended. In the post-Jeffery Epstien era of the year 2020, this would not work at all. But apparently some people got together, smoked some really good weed, and thought the plot for this video was a fantastic idea. Thus it was made, and the tune became a huge hit.

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If you’re of the the Millennial or Zoomer mindset, you might find this video offensive. You know, being Woke and all that. If it was made today, the Cancel Culture would’ve been all over this on Twitter. But chill out, cause remember – this video was done around 1979 or 1980. A year prior was the film Pretty Baby, staring Brooke Shields. So maybe the poor judgement gets blamed on the drugs. You know, like how they say LSD was the best during the 1960s? You might want to keep that in mind.

I kid, I kid. Since I’m from the Gen X crowd, I don’t get offended. Instead, I become snarky. Watch the video a few more times, and I’m roasting on it as if I was Beavis and Butthead, but without the brain damage. I know unintentional humor when I see it.

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Luckily the song was such a big hit, it transcended the video. The video wasn’t even controversial then. Into The Night was not only a hit once, but twice; 1980, and 1989.

What is not too known is the story behind the music. Into The Night sounds like a love song, but it was written about a teen girl going through a rough time. It was the year 1979. Living in Spanish Harlem, the girl’s father left the wife and kids for another woman. Sympathetic, Mardones started helping the family out. One day, as Mardones and his song writing partner Robert Tepper was working, the 16 year old teen comes by to walk Mardones’ dog. Tepper appreciates the teen beauty, but Mardones stepped in saying “leave her along, she’s just 16 years old…” The light bulb switched on above his head, and the rest is history. Years afterwards, the teen muse and Benny kept in touch. Therefore the song was not sexual in the least.

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The song propelled Benny Mardones into stardom, but it didn’t last too long. After a few years, Mardones developed a drug addiction. In an attempt to begin his life anew, he moved to Syracuse, NY. From 1985 onward, he became a favorite son in his adopted hometown. In 2017, he played one final concert before settling in California to receive treatment for Parkinson’s Disease. Recently I read that Benny Mardones’ wife was requesting correspondence. Parkinson’s Disease was taking over. His wife said any letters, cards, etc., would mean the world to him. So I thought I should send him something. Alas, I never got around to it – he died a few weeks soon after I read the online article. Found out about his death through a Facebook post.

Hearing about Mardones’ passing broke my heart. Despite me busting on the original promo video, the song itself will always be a classic.

In honor of Benny Mardones, and for the song I’ve been hearing since childhood, I did a quick watercolor sketch. In a few days this sketch will be mailed to his wife. I understand his wife might be taking donations to Parkinson’s Research at USC.

MAILING ADDRESS FOR CARDS/LETTERS:
Benny & Jane Mardones
28039 Scott Rd, D397
Murrieta, CA 92563

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Quick sketch of Benny Mardones (1946 – 2020). Watercolor. July 2020. Done by Michele Witchipoo.

R.I.P. Benny Mardones.

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So news came down that comic book inker Joe Sinnott passed away the morning of June 25th, 2020. Sinnott was best for his work with Marvel comics. The legendary artist drew for iconic titles such as Fantastic Four, Captain America, and The Avengers. The comic book industry, such as the Inkwell Awards has been paying their respects to a legend. (Sinnott was involved with the Inkwell Awards)

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Last year I was lucky enough to meet him at an Upstate NY comic con, IncrediCon. That day was a good day. My table was in between two talented artists, sold some of my own comics, did a commission, and met an Instagram friend.

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Legendary comic book inker Joe Sinnott, with his son Mark. Photo taken last year in Upstate, NY, during the IncrediCon comic con. June 2019.

As things were winding down, I decided to pop by Joe Sinnott‘s table. Sinnott, the guest of honor was sitting next to his son. Taking a chance, I asked if Mr. Sinnott was still doing commissions. Surprise – he was! So I got a commission as a birthday present for Ben. Sinnott drew one of the classic Marvel characters, Thor.

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After I picked up the commission, I believe his son told me Joe was still drawing everyday. Apparently he drew everyday until the end. That itself, is inspiring to any artist. Age really is just a number. Age only matters when you allow yourself to be limited.

With that, my condolences to the Sinnott family. Thank you Joe Sinnott for the many years you spent creating. Godspeed.

*Thanks to Ben Herman for images of comics featuring Joe Sinnott’s signature. 

 

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There was once a crazy looking and sounding decade known as the 1970s. During the first part of those ten years, there was the Glam rock phenomenon. Glam rock, sometimes known as Glitter rock was massive in the U.K. For starters, you had David Bowie, at the height of his Ziggy Stardust period. There was T. Rex, with Marc Bolan. Another influential band was Roxy Music. Around the same time were rocks outfits such as Queen, Mott The Hoople, and early Elton John.

In the U.S., you had acts like shock rocker Alice Cooper, The NY Dolls, Suzi Quatro, KISS, Lou Reed (briefly after breaking with The Velvet Underground), and maybe Iggy and The Stooges, or just Iggy himself. Jobriath was an American music artist that was extremely hyped, but his overt gay sexuality was too much during that time. It’s only within the past ten years that Jobriath is being discussed. This is not to be confused with Glam Metal, which dominated mainstream rock during the ’80’s.

After that, you had your “Bubblegum” pop crew, with acts like Gary Glitter, Wizzard, Alvin Stardust, and a few others. We won’t discuss Gary Glitter cause like, that would be awkward.

Then we had Sweet.

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Originally called The Sweetshop, the intital lineup formed in 1968. Bassist and vocalist Steve Priest was one of the founding members, along with Brian Connelly and Mick Tucker. It wasn’t until around 1970 when The Sweet met up with songwriters Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman. Chinn and Chapman for short. After a few attempts, The Sweet struck gold on the British charts with Bubblegum type hits like ‘Little Willy‘, ‘Block Buster‘, and ‘Wig-Bam-Wam‘. In 1973, the song ‘The Ballroom Blitz‘ became an international hit, charting in Canada, Europe, Australia, and the U.S.

The Sweet also had a then-considered outrageous look, which boosted their image. The Sweet’s makeup and wardrobe fit in perfectly with the Glam rock craze of the early ’70s.

The end of 1973, and from 1974 onward, the word ‘the’ was dropped from the band name. They were officially known as simply Sweet.

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The year of 1974 was also the year Sweet were tired of the Chinn and Chapman formula. Wanting to go in a more harder rock direction, this was reflected in the next two albums, Sweet Fanny Adams and Desolation Boulevard. The U.S. release of Desolation Boulevard differs from the U.K. version. For example, the U.S. pressing includes the international ditty, ‘Ballroom Blitz.’ Interjecting a personal opinion, Desolation Boulevard is one of my favorite albums.

 

Their biggest hit was ‘Fox On The Run‘, released in 1975. Following Desolation Boulevard was the albums Give Us a Wink, and the live album Strung up. Strung Up, was released only in Europe. After proving the band was self sufficient in both songwriting and production, Sweet officially broke away from the Chinn-Chapman partnership.

Nothing lasts forever as the saying goes. Things slowly went from sweet to sour. They had one last international hit with the epic ‘Love Like Oxygen.’ Again, ‘Love Like Oxygen‘ and the album ‘Level Headed‘ showed another change in direction. A more mellower sound emerged. ‘Level Headed‘ would be the last good album Sweet would release.

After 1978, Sweet would fall from grace. Vocalist Brian Connelly left the band. The rest of Sweet carried on, until the 1980 breakup. Since 1984, there’s been various version of Sweet, all led by different members, going in different directions. Brian Connelly died in 1997. Mick Tucker passed away in 2002. With Steve Priest’s death on June 4, 2020, Andy Scott is the last Sweet member alive.

Taking a break from the pandemic and the current U.S. civil unrest, I drew a quick illustration of Sweet. It’s a bit rushed, but it captures Sweet during their Glam Bubblegum era. Done in pen, ink, watercolor, and shimmer watercolor. The shimmer watercolor adds to the Glam rock image.

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Sweet. Quick illustration by Michele Witchipoo, June 2020. Pen, ink, watercolor, shimmer watercolor.

 

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Self explanatory title. Episode two of my summer series webcomic is now up. It’s titled Psycho Bunny – Summer of COVID19. You can read it on WEBTOONS.

In episode two, Psycho Bunny has the shakes after having nightmares about Covid19. At the corner bodega, he runs into his friend Gabriel, who he calls ‘Chubbmiser.’ Gabriel sets him straight about the virus, but Psycho Bunny is still freaking out. Episode three should be uploaded soon.

So without further ado, here’s the Psycho Bunny sketch of the week for Sunday, June 7, 2020. I waited a week between uploading episodes due to current U.S. events.

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The Psycho Bunny sketch of the week for June 7, 2020. Based on the comic written and drawn by Michele Witchipoo, on WitchesBrewPress. Currently on WEBTOONS.

Again, understandably people are focused on the U.S. nationwide protests. If you want a break from recent events, here’s some social media links.

 If you haven’t heard,  I’ve re-opened my Etsy store: Michele Witchipoo. You can purchase some of my comics there. There’s also handmade holiday ornaments, greeting cards, and eventually other items for sale. Check back every so often, the store will continue to have more merch posted.

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I’ve also officially launched my Patreon account. Still learning the in and outs of Patreon fund raising. You can subscribe starting at $5.00 a month.

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QUARANTINE GOT YOU BORED? HERE’S SOME SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS TO FOLLOW:

WEBTOONS: Psycho Bunny – Summer of COVID-19.

 Facebook: 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

Want to buy some of my designs? There’s RedBubble: Witchipoo

Also. I’m available for commissions. Comics and greetings are available for purchase. No shame in this plug. Especially with the financial impact. Questions? Hit me up: Witchipoo@witchesbrewpress.net. You can also contact me via Instagram, @WitchipooArt

Be safe everyone.

 

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Tomorrow night, Wednesday May 20th, 2020 from 7-8 pm ET on WHCSradio.org, I’ll have returning guest Mark Torres. Mark hosts his own radio show titled It Came From The Radio. ICFTR promotes indie comic creators, film makers, and writers while also covering the latest in sci-fi, horror and comic book entertainment. Mark is also working on his own comic. We had a blast last time I interviewed him, so he’s coming back. Mark’s show was recorded in the studio at Grindhouse Radio. Grindhouse Radio, otherwise known as GHR is known for being an internationally syndicated, award winning, pop culture talk radio series, featured on iHeartRadio and 19 other syndicated networks with between 3.5 – 4 million listeners weekly worldwide. ICFTR can also be heard from Beyond The Dawn studios.

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After this episode, the season will wrap up. There might be a summer season in the works, if I’m not too busy working on my own projects. On my end I’m working on completing a webcomic, to be posted soon.

In the meantime, check out my show, streaming live on WHCSradio.org tomorrow, May 20th, 2020, from 7-8 pm ET. The shows will be archived, in which you can listen to previous episodes on such platforms like iTunes Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, AnchorFM, and others.

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Think it was the year 1982 or 1983. Around the time when Culture Club first tried to crack into the U.S. market with their first album ‘Kissing To Be Clever.’ I discovered Boy George and the rest of the crew thanks to a quick mention in People Magazine. One look at the black and white photograph, and I was intrigued. The next time I went with my mother to the Alexander’s department store on E. 59th street, my curiosity lead to the record section on the top floor. I was the first kid on the block to own a Culture Club record, and immediately outcast by my Queens junior high peers. The label of ‘freak‘ was slapped upon me. Back in those days, Boy George’s gender bending look was an assault on the American mainstream.

My parents didn’t understand my newfound fascination with Boy George. The good news was, unlike other parents, my parents gave me enough freedom to explore different types of music, art, etc. That turned out to be my saving grace. I was an only child caught in a dysfunctional family. A misfit among my school mates. Wasn’t fond of my neighborhood. Worse of all, I really hated my hairstyle. For some godawful reason, my mother insisted of getting my hair cut in a certain way. That haircut was completely unflattering. It was through my Culture Club fandom that I first discovered how ignorant people can be. Oh, and by the time high school rolled around, I took total control of my own look. I adopted a Siouxsie hairstyle, joining the mid/late ’80s Post Punk crowd. Everyone on my block was horrified about my Goth look. I reviled in it.

In the middle of all this, my parents decided to take a week vacation deep in Upstate NY. We took the bus to Lake George, NY. I should’ve known the trip wasn’t going to be pleasant. Right before we left, my cat Tiger scratched the shit out of my father. My father, of course, thought he knew how to handle cats. No he did not. After Tiger sunk his claws into my father’s hand, chomp went the cat fangs. Dad ended up getting a nasty infection. Thus set the tone for the entire week.

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In the midst of my father’s bad temper, and outcast status among tourists, I found refuge in a huge Upstate video arcade. It was the early ’80s after all. Games like Pac-Man, Tempest, Donkey Kong and so many others were at it’s peak. If there was one thing I was good at, it was video games. In-between I played some mean rounds of skeeball. I got so good at skeeball, there was enough tickets to fetch a prize. So while the vacation itself was miserable, these video games proved a worthy escape.

Fast forward to the year 2000. My ex-boyfriend decided to take me to see Ozzfest at Satatoga Springs. On the way back to NYC, we found ourselves in Lake George. Immediately I recognized the old arcade. It was still there. Walking inside, it was a time warp. It was a rare moment, where everything was exactly the way it was back in 1983.  I loved it. Even took a few photos. Walking through the rest of the main town, I discovered how pretty Lake George was. Gone was the annoying tourists. The entire area was empty. My second chance with Lake George was bliss.

It would be nice to visit Lake George a third time. Before doing this blog post, I did some quick research. Believe this might be the arcade in discussion, or it could be this one. Either way, I’m not too sure of the business name. It looks like there’s been some changes since my last visit in 2000. As of this post, the U.S. is in the middle of a pandemic. So it’ll be a long time before I’ll be going anywhere. Been stuck back in Queens, NY for a little over two months. It’s a good time as any to reminiscence.

In the meantime, enjoy this sketch done earlier this week. Hand drawn, pen, ink, and digitally colored.

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Video game memories. Hand drawn, pen and ink. Digitally colored. Michele Witchipoo. May 2020.

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Even Psycho Bunny wouldn’t ingest bleach.

Introducing the Psycho Bunny sketch of the week for April 27th, 2020.

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Beer not bleach. The Psycho Bunny sketch of the week. Pen, ink, digital color. Based on the comic book written and drawn by Michele Witchipoo. April 2020.

 

Check Out These Social Media Links Now That You’re In Quarantine – What’s Your Excuse?

Facebook: 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

Want to buy some of my designs? There’s RedBubble: Witchipoo

Finally, don’t forget to purchase my Squeaky comic. $4.00. Venmo: @Witchipoo.

Also. I’m available for commissions. Comics and greetings are available for purchase. No shame in this plug. Especially with the financial impact. Questions? Hit me up: Witchipoo@witchesbrewpress.net. You can also contact me via Instagram, @WitchipooArt

Be safe everyone.

FYI – reopened my Esty store! So support your local cartoonist! Buy from my Esty store. Covid-19 free!

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Still doing my quarantine portraits. Here’s one of the legendary ’80s band Duran Duran.

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Duran Duran. Pen, ink, watercolor. Done by Michele Witchipoo. April 2020

While politics sucked, the 1980s had some amazing music. Duran Duran ruled the airwaves during the early to mid-80s. The band is still around today. They continue to release new material, tour, and reach out to fans via Twitter.

Duran Duran member John Taylor recently contracted and survived Covid-19, the novel coronavirus. Here’s to the road to recovery.

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Since the quarantine, I’ve been sketching a lot. Here’s one of the German Neue Deutsche Härte band, Rammstein. Done in pen, ink, and watercolor. You can see the glimmer watercolors in person.

In the U.S., Rammstein is known for one song, Du Hast. Personally, I’m sick of Du Hast, and the other single Engel, from the album Sehnsucht. Instead I prefer songs from Mutter. Rammstein’s latest, debuted on May 2019. It has been ten years since the band released an album. The band was supposed to begin their first ever U.S. stadium tour, starting late summer/early fall 2020. It’s hard to say what’s going to happen thanks to Covid-19. The band posted a statement regarding future info on their website.

Rammstein’s lead singer, Till Lindemann, was recently hospitalized. Originally it was reported it was Coronavirus. Later the press confirmed the opposite; Lindermann tested negative.

Stay tuned for more music inspired illustrations.

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Not going to be a long blog post tonight. Here’s a sketch I did of pin-up legend Bettie Page.

Bettie Page. Hand drawn, digitally colored. April 2020.

Since I colored this digitally, I might take the original and re-color that with watercolors. Some people like my watercolor versions better.

Be safe.

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