In the late 1989 my pervy Uncle John (we’ve all got one) borrowed a VHS video camera off a friend. Since this blog may be read by children I won’t even begin to wonder what he wanted to borrow it for, but lets say it was to film kittens.
Uncle John had the camera for a couple of weeks, in which my infamously movie-mad cousin Dan made more short films than there are Police Academy sequels. One of these was a very low budget remake of 1987s The Monster Squad. Though I think the only monster on show was portrayed by my Uncle John with ketchup on his face. In one memorable scene he leapt off the roof of the extension onto the concrete below. He was killed on impact.
Only joking! But that would have been an easy £250 from Beadle and his wonky house on You’ve Been Framed.
One November weekend Dan, who would have been 13, brought the camera over to my house and reluctantly agreed to film my very first (though sadly not my last) foray into film making. I was 10. I based (i.e stole) the ‘story’ from a recent strip from Marvel’s Real Ghostbusters spin-off comic, ‘It’s Wicked’.
It’s Wicked was a very short-lived vehicle for the English Slimer comics (he was the cover star for all 11 issues) and it featured lots of silly spooky strips, including a Ghostbusters spoof called Ghost Hunters, centering around two nerdy kids repeatedly failing to ‘bust’ ghosts.
In one story (issue 3, I believe) the kids’ Grandpa told them a story about disused toys coming to life and seeking revenge (which obviously struck a chord with Pixar, who went on to make the popular film series ‘Storys About Disused Toys Coming To Life’). The Ghost Hunters story was called Night Of The Living Ted and featured zombie bears, or “Zombears”.
Our film re-imagining revolved around a yellow knitted bear coming to life when it fell in ‘toxic waste’ (a rotting Halloween pumpkin, which had been left to mulch in the garden) and ‘killing’ various people who looked remarkably like Dan in a series of different hats. The zombear was seen off by my Uncle Ian, who told him very sternly to “Be’ave!”. It was a masterpiece, sadly lost when Mum taped over it with some late night muck off Channel 4.
Dan & I made a few more films on video cameras throughout our teens and he eventually went to film school where he made Attack Of The Killer Toon From Hell, The Donkey Avenger, Timepants and had a tiny blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo in Edgar Wright’s first film A Fistful Of Fingers.
Anyway, to cut a long story even longer and pepper it with even more unnecessary punctuation and sentence breaks – like, for instance, this one – over 20 years later I’m working for The Dandy and drawing Tiny’s Temper. Since you’re reading my blog you may be familiar with Tiny’s Temper, but for the uninitiated it was about a little kid whose unpredictable fiery temper manifested itself as a giant red and blue monster, who would cause chaos by acting the berk. Think Calvin & Hobbes, but replace Hobbes with one of the maize-snack-mad Monster Munch monsters and extract all the humour/skilful storytelling. And draw it a bit shoddy.
In one strip, based on my own childhood, Tiny wants to go to the cinema to watch a horror film, his Mum won’t let him as it’s scary, but Temper dares him to go and see it. They argue for so long that the film sells out and so he ends up watching a kids film about a talking mouse – which Temper is terrified of… as they say on terrible movie posters: “with hilarious results!”
In real life the film I had wanted to see was a Nightmare On Elm Street sequel (which I DEFINITELY didn’t just sneak in to instead, Mum). In the strip I obviously had to make up a film, so thought I’d bring back Zombears: Night Of The Living Ted to make my friends and family laugh.
I even included a cartoon of the original little yellow Zombear in the title bar…
But this wasn’t the end of the Zombears… tune in tomorrow for the Return Of The Living Ted!