WOW!!! What an incredible show this was!!! As much as I love Comicon and Wondercon, Monsterpalooza has become my new Favorite of the collector shows. The Palooza started Friday evening at 6:00 and went through the weekend. There were tons of incredible vendor booths, live make-up, airbrush, and mold making seminars, Movie and horror directors& stars, as well as a host of special make up FX artists.. Monsterpalooza has been an annual event but this year they are adding another show in October and again it will be in Burbank!!!! I’m booking this one as we speak. I took tons of pix from the show and they will speak volumes so enough chatter from me and lets go right into the show…
Wow what a week!!! had our big garage sale, making the final pack for Wyoming, getting ready for the fair, and just started on Star Trek Monday morning, life is good but a bit blurry in the high speed lane, HAAAA anyways I’m takeing a coffee break and trying to get up as many con pics as I can this morning,,, there will be a part 4 if I don’t make it today. OK one n all have a great day and enjoy the pics.
OK have to go so there will be a part 4
AHHHHH!! I am finally home! Directly from the con, we spent a week packing for our first big, long drive to Wyoming to get our first load of stuff from CA to our new home. It took a week to drive there and back and then another week to get the truck ready for trip #2. It’s early in the AM and I have an hour to myself, so here is part one to followup the story from this summer’s COMICON!!!! Way too many pics to load in one post so more tomorrow.
Wednesday afternoon my buddy Nelson Broskey flew down from Northern California for what was about our 20th trip to the con. We started the trip off with a stop off at the Chiodo Brothers studios in Burbank and then hit the road for San Diego for the premiere opening on Wednesday night. Traffic was awful like always and took a couple of extra hours to get there; once in town the crowds were everywhere and mood from traveler to line warrior switches into high gear. There is always great anxiety about getting to the right door to get your pass and get in, and if you do it correctly the first time it takes about 45 mins to to go the the process. Once your tag is on, you enter the big doors to the multiple acres of booths and a glittering cornucopia of scifi books, sculptures, posters, soundtracks, games, movies and everything else imaginable. There are movie stars from the past and present, as well as all of your favorite artists doing their thing in the artist alley. The crowd at the door and the main back isle is always thick so a quick jet to the middle isle and over to the far west wall starts the glorious hours of wandering up n down every row searching for all the must have items while making sure you don’t spend all your cash at the first booth you come to, HAAAA! The sad part about opening night is that the floor is only open for a couple of hours, not nearly enough time to do anything but wet your appetite for the next day.
The second best part of the adventure about the con is what restaurant do you want, and do you think you’ll be able to get in… The gas light district is a street of old San Diego architecture and is double sided with bars and food joints to meet every style of meals from around the globe. Nelson and I have discovered the Rockin Baja Cantina which is an awesome place to eat and for some reason we have always gotten right in. MMMMMM a way good place with steak n seafood coming to your table literally in buckets.
Day two is the long day and it does take the whole entire day to walk all the isles. Meanwhile there are panels, screenings, and feature presentations in every side room or hall of the place. That is where the big crowds are, and those lines start anywhere from the day before to somewhere in the middle of the night to see the really big events. I only went to one or two before and it was the closest I have ever been to losing my mind and being put into a strait jacket…WAY to much to handle for my little brain and crowd tolerance so I just stick to the floor, HAAA!
Friday comes as the last day for us and we finish the morning with gliding by our favorite tables one last time just in case we missed anything. The cash is all gone by now and Friday is as close to the weekend as you want to get, for that is when the real crowd comes. It’s getting to be a yearly tradition to end the con adventure with a trip over to the USS Midway and a pin up shoot. This year we worked with a very beautiful young lady named Valerie Neff. We had just met on the model mayhem site a day earlier and set up the shoot the evening before. Nelson and I met Val at the dock and her incredible modeling presence stood out in every casual gesture and stance she took even while simply talking to her. After a quick history we learned that Valerie had come to the states from Peru where she is known as one of the greatest models the country has ever seen; she recently moved to San Diego to try her talents here which only means she will soon conquer our modeling world with her sleek grace and beautifully poetic style. We only shot for a little over an hour, but in that time we shot well over a thousand pictures and went through 4 different costume changes. From my end I have never worked with such a professional, and every picture she posed for turned out incredible. I’m still in awe of her talent and on top of it all she is a very sweet lady with a contagious smile and a love for laughter. I will be writing a much longer post about her soon so today is only a teaser. SO with all that said enjoy the pics and look forward to reading all your comments.
Good morning and happy Wednesday. GOOD NEWS for you collectors out there, or if you’re like me a window shopper, the new Profiles in History auction catalog #44 is now out, and what an awesome auction they are having. Below is a link to the downloadable version, and I have already spent hours looking at this one and am so glad that my wife can hold me back from these incredible auctions, haaaa….. Tons of great movie items, art, and just a cornucopia of things that we all wish we could have. Here are a few pages from my wish list and by far the best thing in this catalog for me is the Spaceship from Zombies of the Stratosphere…also used as Commando Cody’s ship in Radar Men from the Moon) A real treasure!!! OK then off to the drawing board so enjoy the download and have a great day!!!
WOW!!!!! I just had a moment to hang out on the computer and browse a bit and I came across a website and a blog by RYAN DENING!!!! Ryan was my boss on the Star Trek online game when Perpetual was putting the game together. We met in 06 and I started working remotely with a visit up to the bay about once a month to meet and go over all the new lists of things to be rendered. Ryan was hired to be the design boss for the game and what an awesome talent he is. When I first walked in the office, which was very tiny and very dark you could see his art work being modeled or manipulated on every screen as you walked through the halls of computers. Ryan has an incredible sense of design and his passion for Star Trek was without limits. I was a huge fan from the first day and I loved his style of color & tight perspective on how he would choose to set up a rendering. AWESOME talent and one incredibly nice guy!!! I am so glad to have come across his pages today and so glad to be sharing some of his work with you.. I attached both his links in my blog role so be sure to go check out some incredible stuff!!! So for know hold on to your chair and feast your eyes on some of Ryan’s fantastic illustrations.
So Sorry for this very late post, but we lost our internet for the last three weeks and only just got it back up and working. With that said, the last post of the year was to be about Grant McCune and all the modelers at his shop, but sadly, before it was finished news of Grant’s untimely passing changed the story from one of great fun to one of horrible sadness.
2010 has been a hard year full of many sorrows and tragedies. We have lost a lot of Hollywood legends and dear friends, and as the year comes to a close there is one more final goodbye to a dear, dear friend. If you’re a regular reader here, the name Grant McCune is not a new one to you, and with great sadness, Grant passed away on Monday December the 27th of Pancreatic Cancer which he was only diagnosed with 4 weeks prior to his passing. For those of you who don’t know of Grant from a friend’s point of view, he was the chief model maker on a little film that came out in 1977 called “Star Wars” and his masterful craft won him an Oscar. Grant was always a little embarrassed about that because it was really his first film in many ways, and being the humble man that he was, always felt funny about it.
Grant started in the business working with his good friend Bill Shourt on the Mechanical Shark from Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws”. Bill and Grant went from working under water to outer space when George Lucas was putting together a team of specialists to create the undiscovered country of major motion control VFX for his space epic “Star Wars”. The Original Industrial Light and Magic VFX studio was a rented warehouse in Van Nuys, California, right next to the Van Nuys Airport. Star Wars was a landmark film and opened the door to a new world of VFX laden films incorporating Motion Control camera systems and technologies designed and created for Star Wars. Lucas was signed on to do a sequel and he wanted to move his operation up to the Bay area which was George’s stomping grounds. A call was made to see who wanted to follow to a new ILM to be situated in Marin County just north of San Francisco, and who was going to stay in Los Angelas. John Dykstra and six others of the main group decided to stay in southern CA while the others moved on. John Dykstra, Bill Shourt, Grant McCune, Richard Alexander, Roger Dorney, Doug Smith and Bob Sheperd got their money together and formed a new company called “Apogee”. Apogee retained the original building plus one directly next door to house all the new cameras, machine shop, creature shop, optical and animation department, model shop, and lots of stage and office space. Their first project was the television pilot and series called “Battlestar Galactica”. Grant would head up the model shop, and crews of modelers would come and go as the projects came in. Following Galactica came Star Trek (The Motion Picture), Caddyshack, Firefox and a host of other films and commercials.
I knew of Grant from the credits in Star Wars and from all the publications about the films VFX sequences. After years of research I found an add for Apogee in a trade magazine for film and gave him a call. We met in early 1984 and for the next year and a half I would frequently make the drive from Arizona to visit. One hot summer Wednesday in July I stopped by again to say hi. I was staying at my uncle’s house in Fullerton and doing some side work for him while I was on vacation from my job at the grocery store in Phoenix. I told Grant in a joking way that I lived here now, and he said; you live in CALIFORNIA!!! Why yes I do,,,,, he then said, how do you like working outside….. in the heat??? I had just come from 120 degree Arizona heat to California which was barely 100 degrees so hot outside was NOT California, HAAA! I said I love to work outside why? What came next was the big phrase that I thought I would never hear….. Good! would you like start working here tomorrow, your job will be brushing latex into a giant Dinosaur mold and he pointed outside to two half molds of a full sized T-Rex ! WOOOOOOOOOOO Oh yes I would love to, and he said; OK then see ya tomorrow at 7:00, and how does $7.00 an hour sound… That sounds Awesome Grant, Thanks and I will see you tomorrow I said and off I went to get ready for the big day!!!! What an unbelievable time! So on Thursday August 1st 1985 Grant McCune brought me into the world of VFX and one young boy’s dreams came true. I called my boss at Bayless markets and gave my two week notice over then phone and the sound of cheers rang out from everyone standing by the phone on the Arizona side of the line.
Grant was a great boss, and you couldn’t really call him that because he was more a friend than a boss. Always quick with a joke and a laugh, he loved his job and he so gracefully shared all of what he knew with you. Everybody loved Grant and also working at Apogee; it was a place that felt more like a house full of your favorite relatives than a job. There was really no division between the high end and the low end of the crew, and everyone there was incredibly talented and a joy to be around. Grant was a music lover and was ever so fond of the Gypsy Kings, Linda Rondstant, Leon Redbone, Patsy Cline, and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Every morning when he would get in, we would all be blessed by a shout from the door, DOES EVERYONE LOVE THEIR JOB, followed by one of his tunes. Frech fries and breakfest burritos were next in a day of usual favorites. “Invaders from Mars”, “Top Gun”, and “Spaceballs” were my first movies working with Grant and and through him I met some of my very best friends, Cory and Allen Faucher, Pete Gerrard, Glen Campbell, Bill and John Shourt, Robert Beilmere, James Spencer, Pat Denver, David Dryer, Lisa Wise, Debbie Nicoles, Carolyn Diltz, Mike Yost, Greg Jein, Monty Shook, and way too many others to mention here. As Hollywood goes, there would be times where the modelshop crew would float from Apogee to Boss Films, DreamQuest Images, Fantasy II, LA Effects group, and up north to ILM for other jobs, but we would all gladly come back to Grant and Apogee.
The CGI world started to become the way of the future in the early 90’s and by about 1994 (it was provide it or die), which made up the new Hollywood attitude and about this time all the major model shops where coming to an end. Apogee’s final days were in 1995, and as the major VFX company closed it’s doors (literally over night), Grant retained his side of the company and formed his own VFX house under the new name of Grant McCune designs. Fifteen years later his company still stands and does various jobs for films and also in the capacity for specialty props and collectables. Grant was a master photographer as well and he had a darkroom set up at work which he was turning into his daughter Lilly’s new darkroom over the last month or so. Grant also had a full shop at his house and he would commute back and forth between the two with goods and parts created for whatever the current project was. There was nothing that he couldn’t do with his hands and imagination, and he so loved what he did!!! Grant’s wife Kathy was the subject of many of his photo themes and she was always quick with a tip on nutrition. Their children, son Cole and daughter Lilly were always around, and it was always a pleasure to see the McCune family in the shop. Grant was an extremely generous, kind, and grateful man and was always there to talk to and lend some advice no matter what the subject was. He was like a second father to me; he was my friend, my buddy, and a man I loved dearly. He will be missed deeply and his passing came way to quickly and the reality of this is not setting in easily with all of us who knew him. Life is oh so fragile so be sure to tell those around you that you love them often. Kathy McCune and all the gang at GMD want to carry on with what Grant had started and happily his shop will be staying open. It will always be a landmark of where the true magic of working in the movies began for all of those that worked and visited there.
God bless you dear friend Grant, and love to Kathy, Cole, and Lilly.
Here are some pictures of Grant at work and, as soon as I can find all of mine, I’ll be sure to do an update.
It was brought to my attention that somehow my buddy Deg was not in the blogroll anymore… Something mysterious happened and his listing was gone… (most likely it was old-man memory failure on my part and I didn’t load it correctly in the beginning). So in announcement of Deg entering the blogroll today we celebrate with a little history and some artwork by the master Douglas E. Graves, or better known to us as DEG! Way back in March of ’09 the Eavesdropping blog started up and one of the first friends I met was a guy named Deg. Within a month we had become good friends and were working together on “myouterspace.com” In May we met in person at Wonderfest in Kentucky, which is now our annual get-n together place. If you have never seen Deg’s work, get ready to be blown away!!! He is one awesome talent and his fingers and imagination weave unbelievable tapestries of fantastic scenes and spacecraft galore!
Born and raised with his brother Greg in a small rural town in Illinois, Deg and his bro were poor farm children who had no cash and no toys to play with. With grand imaginations the two invented things to do like using heads of cabbage as a ball to play with, or laying in the fields and rolling out of the way (Indiana Jones style) as the ripper blades of the tractors would get dangerously close. Deg lost an eye in a BB-gun accident and Greg donated one of his so Deg could see again in 3D. They are close brothers and rarely ever part except when Deg goes home to be with his wife and yard-squirrels. Deg lost two fingers in Nam and with bionic replacements he can calculate, model, and tickle the ivorys of his keypad at 60MPH. Love and a secret passion for Country ‘n’ Western music landed him a duo with Patsy Kline at one of her last performances in Nashville. Deg also served as personal liaison and coffee-boy to Chuck Yeager when he was stationed in Dayton, Ohio.
Deg’s father hit oil one sunny afternoon in the early 70′s and with his fortune he bought his boy his first computer. It was a Radioshack TRS 80 with cassette memory, and from that day forward Deg’s future was set. One of his first jobs was to create the animated Col. Sanders for the new KFC commercials, as well as the lead designer of the Snuggle Bear from Snuggles fabric softener. Athletically inclined, Deg did a short stint at playing professional soccer, but a run-in with the world famous Pelé snapped his left leg backwards at the knee that resulted in amputation and leg replacement. Ever full of spirit, this event didn’t get Deg down and in the following winter, brothers Greg and Deg went hiking in the Rocky Mountains. The two left the trail and got lost in a blizzard and were considered dead after two weeks of intensive searching by state and local sheriff’s officers. The two emerged miraculously from the mountains in the spring and in good shape, both physically and mentally. When interviewed, the two told their story and shared that the secret to their survival was with great thanks from watching Nanook of the North as children. They learned to make an igloo from ice and snow, and for food they had to resort to cannibalism so they would both eat off of Greg’s frozen haunch and thigh, but ever so sparingly. From there, with his parent’s fortune and the personal fame from the mountain adventure, the world was wide open, so Deg started working as a stock-boy at a local grocery store, while Greg got plastic surgery for his half-eaten leg.
A few years later Deg met his future wife at a lumberjack festival where his bride-to-be won the blue ribbon in the 50 yard axe toss. They were soon wed and now live quietly in the outskirts of Chicago. Deg’s 3D work really took off, enabling him to work from home while his wife brought in the $$$ working as a nurse and part-time at the lumber mill. Greg went on and created a restaurant chain called Steak ‘n’ Shake that is popular in the mid-states and is now branching out to Las Vegas. Today life is good for both men and the sun does set with whistling cowboy tunes each and everyday. On a personal note; Deg’s a family man, a patriot, a man of faith, and a good friend. It is with great honor to put Deg on the blogroll today, so everyone be sure to go and see his name and website address smack dab in the middle of the roll. Below are some fav pieces from the Degster, so have a look and enjoy!!!