Monday, April 28, 2008

Cult Radio Madness!

This past Saturday night I traveled to the wilds of Palmdale, CA to co-host the weekly radio program CULT RADIO A GOGO. Hosts Terry & Tiffany Dufoe were just wonderful, and we spent four hours rambling on about just about everything. Also appearing on the show that night were director/producer/writer Ted Newsom and Kathleen Coleman, who played "Holly Marshall" on the original LAND OF THE LOST television series. C.R.A.G.G. is live every Saturday night from 6:30 to 10:30 PST. You can access the program via the internet at:

It's a great show - but be aware they are completely uncensored, so you can expect some naughty bits from time to time...

Tiffany Dufoe and Kathleen Coleman

Ted Newsom entertains the troops.

Frank, Kathleen and Ted, after the four hour seige ended!

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Great Olin Howlin

This wonderful character actor appeared in hundreds of films, but the two he is most known for in the classic horror community are two of the most iconic sci-fi films of the 1950's. In Them!, he was a the nutbar psychiatric patient who actually saw the giant ants, but only wanted the heroes to "Make me a Sargeant and charge the booze!" In The Blob, his final film, Olin discovers the meteorite that brings the deadly protoplasm to our world, and makes the fatal mistake of poking it with a stick. This was the image that I wanted to capture, because it represents the movie in both human and alien terms. It remains one of my very favorite Sketchy Things pieces. The original pencil drawing now belongs to director John Fasano.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

How Abominable!

Oil pastels can yield some wonderful results once you get the hang of them. This portrait of Vincent Price as The Abominable Dr. Phibes was done on black pastel paper, allowing the black of the paper speak for the black of the background. It's a pretty simple but effective technique, and is especially useful when your subjects are monstrous.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Glazing Hjalmar

The oil painting technique of "glazing" goes back to the Great Masters. It brings a wonderful, unique feeling to a work that is very different from traditional oils. Here's a demonstration of how it works. Could I have a volunteer from the classic horror audience? Anyone? Ah, yes, Mister Poelzig, you'll do just fine!

Let's begin with a rough sketch, and a thin application of the three tones (light, middle and dark) with just some Burnt Umber...

Next, using only that Burnt Umber and Titanium White, the underpainting is created. The important thing in this step is to "pump up" the light tones. Keep in mind that there is going to be color paint applied on top of this, so we want everything to be a bit lighter than usual...

Once the underpainting is dry (and I mean dry!), the glazing can begin. The color oil paint is thinned out with Glazing medium, and applied in very thin layers. The paints used are referred to as "transparent" colors, such as Ultramarine Blue or Alizarin Crimson. Gradually the colors are built up over the monochromatic base. The tones show through the color, maintaining the depth of the painting. A little Zinc White or (better) Flake White can be added if needed, to lighten an area or color, or to create a highlight...

The finished painting dries with nice high gloss, and the results can be quite striking. This painting was only 5" x 7" and is now in the private collection Robert Taylor in Ohio.

Thank you, Mister Poelzig, for your cooperation.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Simple Wolf

This is one of my very favorite pen-and-ink sketches. Very quick, very loose, but totally captures the Wolf Man dynamic. This was before I had the luxury of DVD and screen capture, so I had to pause my VHS cassette of Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man and draw like the devil. It's actually like "life drawing," only with a TV instead of a live model. You've got one minute to capture the gesture! Go!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


This is a very new piece, based on Ray Harryhausen's intense Allosaurus from One Million Years B.C. This is my favorite sequence from that film, featuring a really malicious dino. I also really like the beast's design, which seems to be based more on a cobra than a lizard or croc. Definitely one of my top-ten Harryhausen sequences.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Remembering Benny

Today we held a "memorial" party to celebrate the life of our dear friend, Ben Chapman. Dozens of Benny's friends gathered at the home of Daniel and Kelly Roebuck, where we remembered Benny in a way that would have pleased him - laughing and enjoying life. His wife Merilee and sons Ben III and Grant were there, as well as his Creature From The Black Lagoon co-star Julie Adams, and the daughter and granddaughter of his other co-star Richard Denning. Also in attendance were Swamp Thing Dick Durock and his wife Jane, Johnny "The Arizona Gillman" Gilbert, Taylor White, directors John Fasano and Ed Plumb, author David J. Schow, makeup artist John Goodwin, producer Chuck Williams, Rondo "Monster Kid Of The Year" Mike Schlesinger and many, many others.
Benny touched so many people's lives in such a positive way. As Bob and Kathy Burns recently said, he could light up a room just by entering it. Shortly after his passing, I suggested that Benny be honored with a Rondo "Hall Of Fame" Award, for keeping the memory of classic monsters alive by his enthusiasm, his optimism, his humor and his devotion to his fans. Thankfully, the Rondo board agreed. Benny made his mark on this world in a remarkable way. He was loved by all, and I am a better person than I was before I met him.

As David Schow said to me at the end of the evening, it now falls to us to carry Benny's torch forward, and promote the same qualities to our own fans...and that is a task I am proud and honored to deliver.
I love you, Benjamin Franklin Chapman, Jr. Thank you for everything.

Me and Dee Denning, daughter of Evelyn Ankers and Richard Denning.

Screenwriters John Fasano and David J. Schow compare Hollywood war stories.

Sam Park, John Goodwin, Mike Schlesinger and Johnny Gilbert.

Host Daniel Roebuck, unaware that Evil Wilhelm lurks just behind him...

Dee Denning, her daughter Summer and Julie Adams.

Taylor White, who created the "Creature Features" shop in Burbank and brought us all together, with Johnny "The Arizona Gillman" Gilbert, surrounded by memories of Benny.

Julie and Merilee, wishing they could enjoy their cheesecake without cameras!

Drawn Of The Dead

I am a huge Romero fan, so when a fan of mine commissions a "Living Dead" piece, I am thrilled. Travis Davidson from the San Diego area owns almost all of my original drawings based on Dawn Of The Dead. He had me do this piece because most of the drawings he owns are of the human characters from that film. This zombie is probably the most iconic image from that movie, and it was a heck of a lot of fun to do.

Greg Nicotero owns the sketch I did of him from Day Of The Dead, and Tom Savini owns his from Dawn. Travis owns the rest, including the one-legged Priest who has the best line in the all the Dead films. "When the dead walk, Senores, you must stop the killing, or lose the war."

Love it.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Benny From The Black Lagoon

This coming Sunday, the friends of the late Ben "The Reel Gillman" Chapman are gathering to celebrate his life. In honor, here is one of the first Benny "Land Creature" drawings I did, from the second book. The weird part is, it actually looks a little like Benny. Maybe it's one of those "people who start to look like their dogs" kind of things...or it could just be me. But damn it, I SEE Benny in that Jack Kevan-sculpted face! Like the previous Bela post, this was a pencil drawing, colorized on the computer.

CORRECTION! Looking back, I realized that this was actually NOT colorized on the computer, but printed out and colored by hand with Prismacolor color pencils, which is probably why it looks so good!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Lugosi On The Web

Okay, well, not the world wide web, but a spider's web. This piece was another pencil/computer hybrid. Bela Lugosi Jr. actually enjoyed this one enough to add it to the licensing package for his dad's image. The background, by the way, was an actual orb-weaver spider web from my backyard...the spider is cleverly concealed behind Bela's noggin.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Long Lost Lon

London After Midnight mat never be found, but I recently discovered this image on an old ZIP disk. I think it was meant to be the home page image for my very first website, long since retired. It represents some early experimentation with Photoshop, or some lesser photo editing software. The sketch of Chaney is pencil, while the background is a photo, slightly blurred to create the illusion of depth. The drawing was one of the very first "full body" Sketchy Things pieces, from The Things Remain Sketchy (2000).

This piece would have made a nice first post for this blog, but the Heston thing was so fresh in my mind, I felt it was somehow more urgent.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A Scary Childhood Memory

This image of Maila Nurmi, a.k.a. Vampira, haunted me as a child. This shot from Plan 9 From Outer Space was used in the opening to WPIX New York's Chiller Theater show. I remember having to hide my eyes as the shot approached...and yet, I must have peeked a little...

I absolutely had to draw this one. From my 3rd sketchbook, Sketchy Things Walk Among Us (2001).


After avoiding jumping into this fray for a long time, I've decided to go ahead and leap head first. So welcome to Frank Dietz's Sketchy Things ArtBlog! The focus here will be on classic monster artwork, my own and others, as well as projects and events and that I appear at throughout the year.

I've really enjoyed reading the blogs of other Monster Kids out there, such as Tim Lucas and his Video Watchblog, Max Cheney's The Drunken Severed Head and Pierre Fournier's Frankensteinia. The latter site I was recently invited to contribute to with a "Guest Blog," which was great fun and quite satisfying because of the enthusiastic response.

You probably won't find much profound thinking here, because I don't have too many profound thoughts. I am, however, pretty good with a pencil or paintbrush, and that is something I can share with you all. Please note that any artwork posted on this blog is the sole property of Frank Dietz, unless otherwise indicated. That means you can't borrow it without permission, or make copies of it or sell it on eBay.

So who am I, you might ask? Chances are if you've been directed to this blog, you already know me, or at least know of me and my work. In a nutshell, I am known as a "Classic Monster Artist," meaning I pay tribute to the actors and characters from movies that love by rendering them in my own art stylings, from caricature to fine art studies. I am also a screenwriter, occasional actor and former Disney animator. I have been honored for the last two years to be named "Artist Of The Year" in the annual Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards. Since 1999, I have published seven volumes of sketchbooks, known as The "Sketchy Things" series - which explains the title of this new blog.

To get things started, I thought it would be fitting to post some images of Charlton Heston, a hero from my childhood, who passed away over the weekend.

Chuck Heston was an actor I drew a lot as a kid. He's probably tied with Vincent Price for the actor I did the most sketches of during my formative years. I particularly loved him in the Planet Of The Apes films, as indicated above. I was lucky enough to have met him before he became ill, thanks to my friend John Fasano. It was an encounter I will hold precious for the rest of my life.