The Horrifying Hatted Head of My Horror Host

It’s surprising upon putting pencil to paper that I realized I never had drawn Chicago’s very own creature feature host: Svengoolie prior.

Svengoolie, like many young Chicagoans before me, introduced generations to classic (and not-so-classic) horror and reeled many into the art of the late night “Creature Feature”. Taking over the titular role in the late 1970s from Jerry G. Bishop, Svengoolie was more than just a horror host. Every Saturday night in the 1990s I parked myself in front of the television and watched Sven’s alter ego (Rich Koz) host Stooge-a-Palooza followed by Svengoolie.

His wacky humor was always comforting when showing a more scary feature but also synced up with the more campy silly movies. He was a bonding agent between my mom and myself as well, as she often recalled soaking up classic monsters via Bishop’s Svengoolie in the late 60’s and 70’s.

For me, Svengoolie always was. As natural as the sunset or rain. And he’s been a local legend in Chicago’s history. If you knew Svengoolie, you were from here. It’s been over a decade since he’s gone national, but he hasn’t lost his luster. I’m glad we aren’t selfish when it comes to Sven, as the horror host is an endangered species. I’ve recently wondered what will happen when Rich Koz retires. Which he’s hinted at numerous times recently. I truly hope someone worthy in his eyes picks up the mantle, as I’d despise the American tradition of the late night Creature Feature tumbling to its death like King Kong.

So I put pencil to paper (as well as ink and color) to create my take on a Svengoolie piece. I combined several of my older “pen and ink” monster pieces into his hat. I put this together as an 18×24 canvas piece and shipped it, along with a short heartfelt note, to Svengoolie’s production studio with the hopes of him simply seeing it.

I’ll keep an eye out if it ends up featured in someway on his weekly show; and I’ll update this post if it indeed does.

The Yogi Showgi

Yogi Bear is one of my top 5 favorite cartoon characters. Which makes sense since the “Honeymooners” Ed Norton is one of my favorite television characters. Yogi’s roots in animated antics are simple in story and execution. He was never a complicated character, yet still became a household name throughout the 50’s and 60s. He’s made it solo, had his own movies, a comedy album with the Three Stooges, a comic book series, been rebooted a few times, he’s been in space, had his own video games, and made tons of cameos. He even has a line of successful camping resorts all around the country. 

He currently has his own cartoon show, yet again, this time on HBO Max. That’s what inspired me to make these concepts. While Jellystone is entertaining, it falls into the hyperactive meme route that so many modern cartoons strive for. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing either, I’m simply presenting something different yet familiar. 

With “We Bare Bears” as a major influence on the style, I decided to take Yogi (and Boo Boo) back to Jellystone Park. Both bears have an undying obsession with food. Ranger Smith (and his team of dedicated Forest Rangers) wage a slapstick war on Yogi and Boo Boo as the bear’s appetites grow. Taking the classic route of the original Yogi cartoons along with the addition of modern technology, views, and humor…The Yogi Showgi would consist of several 7 minute shorts involving Yogi and Boo Boo’s Pik-a-Nik antics as addition to solo shorts featuring Boo Boo, Ranger Smith, Cindy Bear, and several new woodland critter characters. 

Visually I tried to do the opposite of what one would expect: from axing Yogi’s collar and classic hat to Boo’s bowtie. Ranger Smith is a completely different looking character, going more of a Yosemite Sam route. He would be unapologetically hardcore in this iteration as well, determined to end Yogi and Boo Boo’s mass consumption at nearly any cost…except killing (he’s a nature lover afterall). Yogi still would retain his rhyming lovable oaf persona, but Boo Boo would be a silent partner with an appetite seemingly bigger than Yogi’s. Overall, I’m proud of how these turned out. Yogi Bear has been around for over 60 years which is an enormous accomplishment for a non-Disney character. And I hope Yogi is around for another 60 more! He’s smarter than your av-er-uge bear afterall.

Sonic Spin!

I’ve been riding that Sonic The Hedgehog 2 high the past few weeks. I decided to revisit some old drawings I did around early 2020. I packaged my conceptual designs for a mock animated series I called “Sonic Spin”. Another “what if?” project where if a certain IP were in my hands, how would I pitch it? “Sonic Spin” would be aimed at very young children riding the success of the Sonic the Hedgehog films. It would be more in tone to the 1993 Adventures of Sonic The Hedgehog rather than the overly complicated, often too-serious anime Sonic shows that followed. Sonic has always been a lighthearted fun colorful character. Which is why children are so drawn to him in the first place.

The heroes of Sonic Spins

When it comes to my actual designs, I went for a light hearted Looney Tunes aesthetic but also simplified designs as modern cartoons tend to do. Today, you’ll see a lot of classic IPs like Ninja Turtles or Thundercats “reimagined” into a wackier tongue-in-cheek animated direction. It never bodes well with the diehards, but sometimes it can be enjoyable for what it is…even though you sort of question how it got this far in the first place.

The Villains Doc Robotnik and his self built sidekick: Metal Sonik

When I shared some of these designs via Reddit in 2020, the consensus from the Sonic fan community was “Amazing skill; Terrible take.” And that’s okay. Because it’s also not aimed at them. It’s a silly fast paced, adventure comedy about a Hedgehog and his friends fighting evil robots aimed at 5-8 year olds. Personally, I loved drawing these characters. I would love to see this realized a bit more. One day maybe. #gottagofast

A Quick (duh) Synopsis for the show…