Friday, July 27, 2012

Our old, dear friend, Saturday Morning....

So, if you were a little kid in the 70's, you know full well the euphoria of finishing up a week at school to wake up before the sun around 6AM on Saturday morning to partake in the Saturday morning cartoon schedule of your favourite network television stations.  Growing up in Southern Ontario, 6AM meant you were sneaking up, bleary-eyed, to see re-runs of the Krantz Spider-man or Rocket Robin Hood series, or watching the spooky fun Hilarious House of Frightenstein on CHCH Television!

Maybe you enjoyed your bowl of sugary sweetened cereal with the likes of Global Television with The Mighty Hercules, or maybe Tales of the Wizard of Oz, the 1961 animated television series, produced by Crawley Films for Videocrafts (later known as Videocraft and ultimately Rankin/Bass)?  

Or maybe time travelling with the wise Professor Kitzel was more your thing?  I know I didn't like that show, as it made me try and learn some history, which I was NOT interested in on my Saturday morning cartoon blitz! :D

I remember vividly, wearing my pajamas, sprawled on rust coloured carpet among many Micronaut and Star Wars toys, watching the heroic exploits of Flash Gordon, Tarzan, The Lone Ranger, Zorro, Space Ghost, The Herculoids, Bird Man and the Galaxy Trio, The Super Friends, Thundarr the Barbarian, Spider Man and his Amazing Friends, and He-Man!  

I laughed with the likes of Tom & Jerry, The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show, Droopy, Loony Tunes, Woody Woodpecker, The Pink Panther, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, Heckle & Jeckle, the list goes on and on.  Its probably why I'm in animation today, with so much fun airing on TV back then.

Whatever your love of nostalgia, I tried to explain to my son how wonderful and almost exhausting Saturday morning was back then, as specialty channels with 24 hour cartoon airings weren't even a blip on the animated radar back in those days.

And then the cereal and toy commercials we had!   But that's another story.... ;)

What are your memories of Saturday mornings?


Friday, July 20, 2012

Mighty Men and Monster Maker

In keeping with last week's "what inspires us here at Mad Lab?" angle, here is another biggy.

If you had one of these as a kid, you remember how awesome it was. If you didn't (or are about 20 years too young, or too old), here's one to look up on eBay: Mighty Men and Monster Maker.

Just look at the box. Can imagine finding anything so cool on toy shelves today?

There are MONSTER HANDS on the box. That means MONSTERS like to play with this toy. And any toy that monsters like to play with must, by logical extension, be cool. Also, any toy that proudly declares it will "give you the creeps" on the box has its head on straight (from a Mad Lab pov).

And then on the inside? We have this:

Allow us to break this down a bit: on the right, are the relief plates you can choose from. You have HEADS, then you have TORSOS, and then you have LOWER BODIES. Each plate has a image on both sides, and some of the plates (instead of images on the flipside) have textures- so you can create fur, scales, etc.

You arrange your creation from a selection of very cool (to this day) designs of mummies, ghouls, aliens, werewolves... and then some superhero type guys (that are all rather generic and boring, compared to the insane energy of the monsters, but oh well).

You assemble your creation on the left, lay a piece of paper over top, lower the frame to hold it all in place, then take the crayon (that comes housed in its very own official "holder") and rub the hell out of it. VOILA!! A monster creation fit for a Kreepy King. In seconds- nearly immediate satisfaction. The best kind.

Then you're free to add your own colours and textures. Go nuts.

This toy is personally responsible for the weirdness that Mad Lab is creating today, 30 odd (very odd) years later. No other toy from our youth encouraged such intense sci-fi/fantasy/horror character creation. Wonderful.

Get yours today! Or if you ever find yourself in the Mad Lab, if you ask real nice... we might let you play with ours.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Our Hero, Jack Davis

Today, we thought we'd just refresh your memory about an artist that deeply inspires Mad Lab Productions. Much has been written about the man and his art, but here's a brief intro, dragged straight from Wikipedia: "Jack Davis (b. December 2, 1924) is an American cartoonist, known for his advertising art, magazine covers, film posters, record album art and numerous comic book stories. He was one of the founding cartoonists for MAD Magazine."

We love his work (especially his monster stuff) because as detailed and as highly rendered as it is, it never lose its sense of cartoon fun. His monsters are funny to look at, but are still monsters, to be sure. They have a violent, toothy, dangerous edge... but also a wonderful silliness.That balance of spooky and fun is something we really hold dear to our darkly beating hearts at Mad Lab Productions. There's a newly published book on the art of Jack Davis as well, so look for it.

Here's some of our fave pieces of art from Jack Davis:

Here's a fantastic flickr page about Jack Davis.

And finally, here's a cool piece by Chuck Dixon that features Jack's You'll Die Laughing cards.

Friday, July 6, 2012


Too hot to read a blog? Never. Too hot to WRITE a blog entry? Possibly. At least today. But Mad Lab struggles onward...

 So we'll keep this one short, and just say that if you are anywhere even near Toronto this weekend, and love animation, you need to get to TAAFI. That's the "Toronto Animation Arts Festival International", running all weekend. It's the first year for TAAFI, and they've landed on the scene with an amazing lineup of films and events. It's incredible, really. And the local animation community is responding with a huge outpouring of love (and ticket buying). Get yours, while you still can! Things are selling out...

 See you there, especially Saturday night (and again on Sunday) when Mad Lab's Springtime Zombie hits the big screen...