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R. Crumb’s lowly years cranking out cards for American Greetings
11.08.2017
12:21 pm
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The prevailing genius of American comix (as opposed to “comics”) during the twentieth century has long since been acknowledged to be Robert Crumb (sometimes R. Crumb), whose exquisite and wide-ranging oeuvre is known the world over for its boisterous use of language, its festering misanthropy, its juvenile instinct for humor, its confident crosshatching, its daring deployment of lettering, its affinity for kink, and much else besides. Of all the cartoonists who emerged after the syndication/dimestore period of the first half of the twentieth century, it’s safe to say that none of them has so consistently produced work that is as widely familiar and as preternaturally compelling. 

Like many others, Crumb, who entered the world in 1943, had an apprenticeship period in his late teens and early twenties, and in Crumb’s case he kept body and soul together primarily for the American Greetings company in Cleveland, Ohio, even while he was traveling widely—to Europe, to New York, to Chicago, to San Francisco—even while he was infiltrating and in some measure helping create the underground comics tradition mostly associated with the West Coast, even while he was famously having his mind expanded with some high-octane LSD-25 (as it was called at the time) and even while he creating ground-breaking narratives of questionable taste involving sex and race. Years after e.g. contributing to Zap Comics and inventing many of his characters such as Mr. Natural and Flakey Foont, he would still draw a paycheck from American Greetings into the 1970s. 

Unsurprisingly, a temperament as touchy as Crumb’s was seldom discerned to be content working for a corporation dedicated to transmitting saccharine and ingratiating content to the great middle class, but the experience did shape Crumb’s art in significant ways—as the artist himself grumpily acknowledged. His boss there was a man named Tom Wilson, who created Ziggy—which some of Crumb’s work at American Greetings distinctly resembled.

Crumb spent significant time in Cleveland, and while he had and has some affection for the place, he seems to have spent most of his stint there trying to get out. (Of course, it was also where he met Harvey Pekar, with whom he collaborated fruitfully.)

Crumb started working at American Greetings in 1962 at the age of 19. By the autumn of the next year he was assigned to the Hi-Brow cards division. Around the same time he took a sort of sabbatical and visited Europe for several months with his wife, Dana. In June 1965 he had his first truly formative experience with LSD, which messed up his head quite badly for several months (an event for which his fans are eternally grateful, of course). In August of the same year he went to New York to work on a magazine called Help!, which folded as soon as he got there. He worked for the Topps trading card company for a couple of months and then returned to Cleveland.

From November 1965 to April 1966 he was in Chicago before once again returning to Cleveland. In May 1967 Crumb headed for San Francisco, where he made inroads in the underground comix scene and established his reputation once and for all. During the same year, the Lakeview Center for the Arts and Sciences in Cleveland put on a show dedicated to his works. While he was in San Francisco he contributed to American Greetings by mail. It seems that the San Francisco trip did, finally, put an end to Crumb’s status as a Cleveland resident, although he notably returned to the city for a while in 1971, during which time he met up with Pekar again.

Here’s a selection of Crumb’s remarks on his time on Ohio’s northeastern shore:
 

Of all the big cities I’ve been in, Cleveland’s about the deadest or something. But that’s only in certain ways. In other ways I really like Cleveland, ya know? It’s like the lowest common denominator or something. Like you can get right down to basics here or something. Like in Chicago, Milwaukee, or Detroit or Denver or a lot of other towns, I can get a lot of attention from people who appreciate artists. Like I get a lot of ego build-up that way, but Cleveland’s a big dumb town.

I was here off and on for three or four years. I came here when I was nineteen after I left home to look for a job and to live with my friend Marty Pahls, and I was here like two weeks and got a job with American Greetings doing color separations. So I worked in the color separations department for about a year and then I was promoted to the Hi Brow department for about a year and then I got married and went to Europe and came back and worked American greetings again for about two months and then I decided to fuck Cleveland and went to New York to try to make it big in New York.

I was there for nine months and I said fuck New York and came back to Cleveland. Worked in Cleveland for about another eight months or something and then I went to San Francisco.

The boss kept telling me my drawing was too grotesque. He got me to draw this cute stuff, which influenced by technique, and even now my work has this cuteness about it.

 
I’m pretty sure that that mention of “the boss” there is a reference to Tom Wilson. All of these quotations come from D.K. Holm’s invaluable volume R. Crumb: Conversations, published by the University Press of Mississippi in 2004; the book also has an extremely useful timeline of Crumb’s career.

As you can see below, most of the Crumb art that is available to present-day fans was executed as part of that Hi Brow department. Those cards have a strikingly vertical format and feature the typical setup [open] punchline structure long associated with greeting cards. Not all of the cards particularly seem like the work of Crumb, but several do, and most of them do feature the kind of off-color or gross-out humor that Crumb is famous for enjoying.

The cards featured below aren’t dated, but its seems logical that the small number of cards that have a definite Ziggy feel to them—such as the yellow one with the phrase “rarin’ to go” and the blue one with the phrase “no special reason”—stem from earlier in Crumb’s tenure at American Greetings, while the ones that feature artwork that seem snatched directly from one of his comix panels—such as the one that starts “Knowing You” and the one with the radio—come from a period after Crumb had made inroads in establishing his distinctive style.

At some point he was involved with a line of cards called Jesters, which were similarly vertical in appearance. After he was more established, in the early 1970s he did a series of cards in a line called Zonk!, and those cards in particular are very in line with the work he was producing elsewhere—they almost seem explicit about this, as if the consumer were consciously buying some groovy cards by that R. Crumb guy. Remarkably, one of them actually features Mr. Natural!
 

 

 
Many more greeting cards from Crumb after the jump…....
 

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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11.08.2017
12:21 pm
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Now you can have your very own ‘Plumbus’ from ‘Rick and Morty’ for less than six & a half brapples
11.08.2017
10:29 am
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An all-too authentic-looking “Plumbus” made by Canadian artist Chad Meister as seen in the Adult Swim cartoon, ‘Rick and Morty.’
 
The now legendary “all-purpose home device” the “Plumbus” was first featured on the addictive animated Adult Swim show Rick and Morty in Season two on episode eight “Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate.” The appearance of the logic-defying Plumbus sent fans into a spiral of WTF much like the aftermath following the equally infamous show from Season Three, “Pickle Rick.” If none of this is making any sense to you, then for some awful reason or thanks to the large rock you live under, I can only assume you’ve never seen an episode of Rick and Morty. If that applies to you, then I highly advise you to change that immediately. Your life will be better for it. Trust me.

Getting back to the Plumbus, an Etsy shop amusingly called Schwifty Props run by Chad Meister has created a spot-on reproduction of the curious Plumbus. Meister’s Plumbus’ come in three different sizes; Tiny (3.5 inches), Regular-Old (six inches), and “Cromulon” (twelve inches) which is an homage to the fantastically bizarre “Pickle Rick” episode. Schwifty Props has even gone the extra mile by including a replica of the Plumbus instruction manual just like the one included in both the DVD and Blu-ray Collector’s Edition releases of Rick and Morty: The Complete Second Season. Here’s a bit from the show that explains what a Plumbus is. Though it might not really explain anything, it’s hard to say:

“Welcome to the exciting world of Plumbus ownership! A Plumbus will aid many things in life, making life easier. With proper maintenance, handling, storage, and urging, Plumbus will provide you with a lifetime of better living and happiness.”

Meister is located in Canada and notes that it can take at least three weeks to ship a Plumbus to you, so keep that in mind. Meister also makes a few other oddities that from the show such as the “Butter Robot” (Episode nine, season one “Something Ricked This Way Comes”), and the often-featured “Mega Seeds” that Rick told Morty to put “way up his butthole” on the debut episode of the show.

Images of the real-life somewhat NSFW Plumbus follow.
 

A photo of one of Meister’s Plumbus’ hanging out in a bathroom.
 

The Plumbus workshop.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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11.08.2017
10:29 am
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Sexy Beasts & Monster Cartoon Freaks: The weirdo art of ‘Heaven’s Favorite Man’ Matt Crabe
11.07.2017
08:55 am
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‘Bury Death on a Full Moon.’
 
Artist Matt Crabe is one helluva prolific guy. He makes paintings, prints, drawings, ‘zines, books, pins, death threats, t-shirts, and giant hanging paper demons which all feature his beautifully grotesque and NSFW creations.

Crabe draws intricate Day-Glo colored monsters, ravenous demons, and deformed super freaks that burst off the page like some weird unnameable creatures from the very worst kind of nightmare. As you can tell, I dig Crabe’s work a lot. He’s tapped into something that connects trippy childhood cartoon figures with a scatological glee for sex and bodily functions.

Based in Asbury Park, NJ, Crabe drops his work down from Heaven—or so he says, indeed he calls himself “Heaven’s favorite man”—and sells it via his online store, and shares through his Instagram and Tumblr. Check more of Matt Crabe’s work here.
 
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‘The End of the Drought.’
 
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‘When water isn’t enough for the flowers anymore.’
 
See more strange monstrosities, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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11.07.2017
08:55 am
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Theres a new edition of Dali’s ‘The Wines of Gala’: The modern wine bible you never knew you needed
11.06.2017
12:32 pm
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This month, publisher Taschen is following up on its successful re-publication of Salvador Dalí‘s Les Dîners de Gala with his long out-of-print companion volume The Wines of Gala.

The Wines of Gala may be the lesser known of Dalí‘s two epicurean books, but it is still a sumptuously illustrated and highly collectible Surrealist treatise on the pleasures of viticulture. Originally published in French under the title Les Vins de Gala et du Divin (The Wines of Gala and the Divine) in 1977, this Dalínian introduction to wine was (surprisingly) not a success on its first release. As Dalí contributed no text, it was seen by many as a money-grabbing exercise by the aging Surrealist. The original text was written by Max Gérard (“Ten Divine Dalí Wines”) and Louis Orizet (“Ten Gala Wines”) with an introductory poem by Baron Philippe de Rothschild (“La Cave”).

However, Dalí was involved in the direction of content, the selection of wines and their organization “according to the sensations they create in our very depths.” These are grouped together under chapter headings like “Wines of Frivolity,” “Wines of Sensuality,” “Wines of Light,” and “Wines of the Impossible.” The idea was based on Dalí‘s belief that “A real connoisseur does not drink wine but tastes of its secrets.”

The Wines of Gala contains over 140 of Dalí‘s illustrations—including “appropriated artworks,” collages, and paintings like “The Sacrament of the Last Supper” (1955). The book was dedicated to Dalí‘s longtime wife and muse, Gala, and the volume applies “Dalí’s famously intense obsession with sexuality and desire to food and wine, two sensual topics he’d rarely addressed in his work.”

Though intended as an introduction to viticulture, the section on “Ten Gala Wines” was considered somewhat revolutionary upon its publication and in many ways it still is today. This section ordered wines by “sensation” or “emotional resonance” rather than by the “prescriptive limits of traditional viticulture.” This opened a whole new way to appreciate wine rather than the way used by most traditional wine critics.

It’s a beautiful book, and who knew Art could be a reason to get merry? Click on the pictures below for a larger image.
 
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More pages from Dalí ‘s ‘The Wines of Gala,’ after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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11.06.2017
12:32 pm
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Social network tarot cards predict the predictable
11.03.2017
07:49 am
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Though one’s daily experiences on Facebook are generally fairly predictable (“like” cat pics, block racist uncle’s Alex Jones posts), a clever artist has created a tarot deck that allows for prognostication of your Internet existence.

Italian illustrator Jacopo Rosati has created a series of tarot images based on the modern experience of online social networking. Instead of the Fool, Magician, and High Priestess, Rosati’s series features Fake News, Trolls, and Dick Pics.

For the time being, Rosati’s tarot images appear to only be available in poster form. Hopefully, we will see an actual deck of these things.

Rosati’s website does not have a “buy” link for the poster, but you can contact him through his email address jacoporosati@gmail.com or Instagram.
 

 

 
More social network tarot cards after the jump…

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Posted by Christopher Bickel
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11.03.2017
07:49 am
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Realism with an edge: The impeccable art of painter David M. Bowers
11.02.2017
08:49 am
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‘The Observer,’ a startling self-portrait by David M. Bower, 2011.
 

“Making art has always been inside of me.  I think most artists would say that art choose them and not that they had chose art.”

—painter David M. Bowers.
 
Two paintings by artist David M. Bowers are a part of the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery—which is no easy feat by any measure. Though some of his works have surrealist qualities, Bowers’ paintings also possess similarities to the craftsmanship of the great masters of the Renaissance such as Sandro Botticelli, and Flemish painters Peter Paul Rubens and Robert Campin. Bowers himself likes to describe his work as “realism with an edge,” words which pretty much nail his impactful, breathtaking paintings.

Once Bowers graduated from art school in 1979, he immediately landed a gig working as a staff artist in and around his native Pittsburgh. A couple of years later he would accept a teaching position at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh that lasted a decade. His official career as a serious artist didn’t begin until he was 35 at which time he created artwork for over 100 book covers as well as work that ran on the cover of TIME magazine. All this makes it very possible that you’ve seen Bowers’ extraordinary artwork before but perhaps were not entirely sure who was responsible for creating such ethereal and mind-bogglingly realistic paintings. Here’s more from Bowers on his vibrantly imaginative concepts: 

“People always want to know what I was thinking when I create one of my more unusual paintings. My answer to them is simple: I just really wanted to paint that girl wrapped in plastic, holding a dead rat. The story sometimes just happens during the painting process. Sometimes the hidden narrative or true meaning is in the title itself. I am often inspired by an image that I see and my painting materializes from that image. It will often morph into so much more.”

Bowers’ long list of contributions to the art world have received an equally long list of accolades, and when he officially moved into the world of fine art, he would be recognized by The Art Renewal Center as a “living master.” Some of Bowers’ work that I’ve featured in this post is NSFW, but I do hope that doesn’t stop you from exploring the images of his extraordinary paintings below. If you like what you see then you’ll also be happy to know that Bowers’ work is the subject of the 2006 book, David Michael Bowers: The Evolution of an Artist.
 

 

 

‘The Three Graces.’
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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11.02.2017
08:49 am
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Queen of Hell: Metalhead stylist & artist takes on ‘The ‘30-Day Corpse Paint Challenge’ and WINS!
11.01.2017
08:39 am
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A photo of Lady LeananSidhe taken during her “30 Day Corpse Paint Challenge” during the month of October 2017.
 
Lady LeananSidhe is a self-described “metalhead fantasy-nerd” based on the east coast who among many other things is a contributor to the excellent Pagan-loving website, Modern Valkyrie. LeananSidhe took it upon herself to create what I pray to Satan will be the next big thing “The 30 Day Corpse Paint Challenge.” Every day during October (except the 31st of course), the multi-talented LeananSidhe filmed a time-lapse video of her applying a different corpsepaint look then took a sinister photo of the finished product. And I have to tell you; the results would make the mighty Abbath himself jealous.

A while back, LeananSidhe did another corpsepaint-themed photo series in which she applied corpsepaint looks to “normal” everyday folks (or “non-metally” people as LeananSidhe calls them), like receptionists and football fans hanging out at the bar which was pretty fantastic itself. However, it just pales in comparison to her triumphant 30-Day Corpse Paint Challenge—something I think you will agree with once you see the some of the photos the very metal LeananSidhe took anti-religiously during October below. You can see all of the photos over on LeananSidhe’s Instagram and on Modern Valkyrie.
 

 

 
More metally looks to look for, after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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11.01.2017
08:39 am
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Beatniks, Bugaloos, & Astro-Spooks: Vintage masks made by the High Priest of Halloween, Ben Cooper
10.31.2017
01:57 pm
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A mask by Ben Cooper Inc. of the cyclops Rell from the 1983 film ‘Krull.’
 
After launching his company, Ben Cooper Inc. in 1937, Brooklyn native Ben Cooper Sr. would help make his costume business hugely successful thanks to their prolific production line of kooky plastic masks. If you owned a plastic mask anytime in the 1940s through the 1980s or so, it was probably made by Ben Cooper Inc. or their closest competitor, Collegeville which was founded in 1923.

I’m a sucker for Halloween ephemera, even though most of what Ben Cooper Inc. put out would eventually find its way into large chain stores like JC Penney and other discount retailers where you could buy cheap but cool costumes and masks of all varieties for a less than four bucks. Whoever you wanted to be for Halloween, Ben Cooper had you quite literally covered. The company would start production of their costumes and masks as early as the first of the year which would yield a veritable hoard of costumes for the coming season. From famous icons like President John F. Kennedy to hyper-colored riffs on classic movie monsters and other ghouls, Ben Cooper Inc. was a Halloween machine. The company had several licensing agreements with high profile clients such as Walt Disney and George Lucas allowing them access to some of the most popular fictional characters of all time. Cooper even scored a license in 1979 to make a costume modeled after H.R. Giger’s xenomorphs that terrorized filmgoers in Alien that same year.

Political masks were also popular items in Ben Cooper Inc.‘s supply chain. In addition to JFK and his first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, they also made other presidential masks such as Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and even Mikhail Gorbachev. Following Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, the company destroyed its entire supply of JFK and Jackie Kennedy masks. Then, in 1982 the horrific news that a child and six adults died after ingesting Extra Strength Tylenol that had been tainted with cyanide in metropolitan locations of Chicago rocked the U.S. about a month before Halloween. The story quickly fueled mass hysteria based on speculation that Halloween candy and treats might also be poisoned. Costume sales for Ben Cooper Inc. (and every other costume and candy manufacturer for that matter) came to a grinding halt, and for many years following the unsolved incident, the Halloween costume business struggled to recover.

Most of the masks and costumes I’ve featured in the post can be found on auction sites like eBay or vintage Internet purveyors like Etsy. Check ‘em all out below!
 

The rare JFK and Jaqueline Kennedy masks.
 

Beatnik mask.
 

Female hipster.
 
More masks after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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10.31.2017
01:57 pm
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The power of Christ compels you: This life-sized ‘Exorcist’ prop sure looks like it needs one
10.30.2017
02:28 pm
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Actress Linda Blair posing alongside a life-sized prop of her character Regan MacNeil from ‘The Exorcist,’ created by Silver Lake, California company, The Scary Closet.
 
Last May I posted about a few of the wicked life-sized puppets and props made by The Scary Closet based in Los Angeles. While their huge, 50-inch puppet of the Tall Man played by the late Angus Scrimm in the Phantasm film series was quite the triumph, The Scary Closet has outdone themselves this time around with their transfixing life-sized prop of Regan MacNeil from The Exorcist in full possessed-by-a-demon mode.

The Scary Closet only made ten life-like props of possessed Regan which were all signed by actress Linda Blair. The incredible prop is so spot-on, The Scary Closet says that it would have gotten a thumbs up from the late Dick Smith, the ingenious makeup artist who gave Blair’s face and body the uncanny appearance of being possessed and abused by the devil himself. Blair has said that the prop is nearly impossible to distinguish from the original one used in The Exorcist and that she was “sure” the molds used by The Scary Closet were crafted from the same ones   formed on the then fourteen-year-old actress. As is the case with high-end pieces such as this it comes with a hefty price tag of $3,995. As of this writing there appear to be only four more realistic Regans that could be used to scare the shit out of anyone with eyes, including those pesky house guests that never take a hint that it’s time for them to go home.

I’ve posted photos of the faux Regan below for you to ponder that are slightly NSFW.
 

 

Blair carefully inspecting the eerie Regan MacNeil prop.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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10.30.2017
02:28 pm
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Undead Teds—zombie teddy bears for when your inner child is too fucked up for words
10.26.2017
07:57 am
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Edgily debasing children’s toys is one of my least favorite underground art moves. With vanishingly few exceptions, it’s incapable of provoking any reactions deeper than a predictable OMG A BLEEDING BABY IN S&M GEAR from normals who wandered into the wrong gallery, or seen-it-all shrugs from the jaded. While it may win you kudos from emos on deviantart, crafting strap-on dildos for Bratz dolls or filling a gallery with cigarette-burnt Cabbage Patch Kids mostly just telegraphs a lack of imagination and probably a not unserious mental disturbance—and if you’re going to be disturbed, why be disturbed in the most boring way possible?

AND YET, despite all the foregoing, I’m absolutely loving UK artist Phillip Blackman’s zombified teddy bears, which he calls “Undead Teds.” I haven’t seen one in real life (though I’m strongly considering giving one a home as soon as I can), but judging from the MANY, MANY photos the artist has posted of his creations, the effect is jarring, and his workmanship looks top-drawer.
 

 

 

 
Blackman detailed his inspiration and process in a Daily Mail interview:

[T]he inspiration came from a rather obscure in-joke between my partner and I. She had a terrible cold at the time and we’d been talking about a gift for a friend’s baby. With a very stuffy nose “teddy-bear” kept coming out as “deady-bear”, and we joked about zombie teddies that creep from under your bed at night to feast on your brains while you sleep.

I individually hand-sculpt the bones, teeth and other organs from polymer clay or latex, then open the bear’s carcass, scoop out as necessary and glue the bones into place.

Each UndeadTed takes in excess of eight hours to make, not including the time it takes for glue, paint and varnish to dry, and I price them individually depending on size, complexity, materials used and time taken.

They’ve all been great fun to make but of all the ones I’ve made so far, my favourites are the Valentine ones, holding their torn-out hearts aloft as a grisly gift to their lovers. Horrible.

 

 

 
Blackman only releases Undead Teds every few weeks, and if you were hoping for one in time for Halloween, you’ll likely be disappointed—a batch released on October 1 is already long gone. However, if you’re very quick, there’s a new batch going up for sale today. If you miss this opportunity, you can be apprised of further releases on the Undead Teds’ Facebook and Tumblr, and if you absolutely MUST have one, Blackman takes custom orders.
 
Even more Undead Teds after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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10.26.2017
07:57 am
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