The Passing of Dick Smith.

Dick Smith and I in 1992 at his home/studio in Larchmont, NY.

Dick Smith and I in 1992 at his home/studio in Larchmont, NY.

I don’t really know how to start this Blog Post. To say I am heartbroken is putting it mildly. Obviously, I knew that Dick Smith was getting older and that eventually this day would come but I don’t think I ever really prepared myself. I awoke this morning to the sad news that the legendary “Godfather” of Special Makeup Effects, Dick Smith, has passed at the age of 92.

When I was a kid, I loved, and I do mean LOVED, horror and sci-fi movies. I watched, and still watch, movies with a very analytical, critical eye. I wanted to know how those guys made all those amazing things happen on screen. Now, this was before CGI came onto the scene, and practical effects were all that most filmmakers had to work with. I was enthralled and began reading every magazine I could find on the industry of special effects makeup. I spend hours making lifecasts, mixing up latex, and even one Halloween had people knocking on the door of my home asking if they could pay me to make them up as zombies or ghouls. I watched various TV programs on the art of Makeup Effects, and one name that was ALWAYS mentioned was that of Dick Smith. One night in 1992 the sixteen-year-old me decided I HAD to meet Dick Smith!

Old age makeup by Dick Smith for Dustin Hoffman in "Little Big Man"

Old age makeup by Dick Smith for Dustin Hoffman in “Little Big Man”

Old age makeup by Dick Smith for Dustin Hoffman in "Little Big Man"

Old age makeup by Dick Smith for Dustin Hoffman in “Little Big Man”

My first phone call was to the home of Special Effects Makeup Artist Tom Savini. Tom is a Pittsburgh native, and since I lived in PA, I figured “Hey, he’ll probably be really nice to me since we’re from the same state”. Ah, the sixteen-year-old brain… In any event, Tom was very gracious over the phone and suggested I get in touch with Dick Smith, and gave me his PHONE NUMBER! I remember not being nervous at all about calling Dick Smith at home. I was more excited than anything. This was a man that I idolized in his field of work. In my eyes, a genius in the effects industry.

Dick’s wife picked up the phone and I asked if “Mr. Smith was available”. Without hesitation, the phone was handed over and the voice on the other end was that of Dick Smith! We spoke for a bit and then Dick said something to me that I couldn’t even believe. He said, “Why don’t you come to my home in New York, and we can spend some time talking about Makeup Effects and I can answer all of your questions.” This was beyond exciting. This was the Godfather inviting a kid to hang out with him! I immediately made plans to travel from PA to Dick’s home in New York.

Various lifecasts at Dick Smith's home/studio in Larchmont, NY.

Various lifecasts at Dick Smith’s home/studio in Larchmont, NY.

Various lifecasts at Dick Smith's home/studio in Larchmont, NY, 1992.

Various lifecasts at Dick Smith’s home/studio in Larchmont, NY, 1992.

A few days later I arrived at Dick Smith’s home in New York, my art portfolio in hand, walked up to his front door, and was warmly greeted by him. We retreated to his basement studio, and he gave me the grand tour. Wide-eyed, I gazed at lifecasts of Marlon Brando, Dustin Hoffman, Linda Blair, etc… and there it was…the Best Makeup Oscar for “Amadeus“! Dick noticed me looking at the Oscar statuette and with a chuckle commented to me “Go ahead and pick it up. It’s heavier than it looks.”

After the tour, Dick sat me down and said, “Okay then, ask me anything you want.” I did so. For the next four hours, we talked about all the Makeup Effects work Dick has created from his time at NBC to his work on “The Godfather“, “The Exorcist” and “Taxi Driver“. We spoke about actors and actresses, how to create just the right color of blood, techniques for sculpting and lifecasting, Rick Baker, Stan Winston and Rob Bottin, and the dawn of CGI. Dick mentioned to me that he had recently returned from a visit to Stan Winston’s studio, were they were building a full-size, animatronic T-Rex for “Jurassic Park“. Dick said, “Go see Jurassic Park when it comes out. That movie is going to change FX work forever.” Around noon, after a multitude of questions and a slideshow, Dick offered to take me to lunch and then we would come back to the studio and chat some more.

Various old-age makeups created by Dick Smith, at his home/studio in Larchmont, NY.

Various old-age makeups created by Dick Smith, at his home/studio in Larchmont, NY.

Dick Smith's old-age makeup for Dustin Hoffman in "Little Big Man"

Dick Smith’s old-age makeup for Dustin Hoffman in “Little Big Man”

After lunch, we returned to Dick’s home where I spent another few hours before moving on to the Museum of The Moving Image to see some of Dick’s work displayed. Before we parted ways, Dick instilled in me to always keep creating. “Don’t ever stop imagining and drawing, painting, creating work. You only get better through practice.” were Dick’s words to me. With that, Dick Smith shook my hand and thanked me for visiting.

I have never forgotten my day with Dick Smith and I recall it with vivid clarity even all these years later. Dick inspired me to continue doing what I love and for that I am beyond thankful. I am not embarrassed to say that as I read of his passing this morning tears welled up in my eyes. I treasure the day I spent with The Godfather of Special Makeup Effects, and I have a feeling that Dick was aware of how much meeting him meant to a sixteen-year-old kid. Rest in peace, Dick Smith. You’re a true legend and I count myself lucky to have known you.

Animatronic Linda Blair from "The Exorcist" created by Dick Smith.

Animatronic Linda Blair from “The Exorcist” created by Dick Smith.

***All images in this Blog post were captured by me at Dick Smith’s home/studio in New York, as well as a few at The Museum of The Moving Image***


Quiltface Studios Visits Elm Street!

Nightmare on Elm Street by Quiltface Studios

Nightmare on Elm Street by Quiltface Studios

Our buddy, Poster Posse member, and big-time supporter of I Got Birds, Chris Garofalo aka Quiltface Studios, is contributing an amazing piece for The Alternative Gallery’s “30 Years of Bad Dreams: The Art of Elm Street” show, opening tonight!

The show will feature the work of up to 20 artists, all paying tribute to one Freddy Krueger! The piece that Chris has featured in the show has a special little surprise. When the lights go out, HERE’S FREDDY in Glow-In-The-Dark action!

Nightmare on Elm Street GID by Quiltface Studios

Nightmare on Elm Street GID by Quiltface Studios

We’re psyched for this show and if you’re in the area you can catch “30 Years of Bad Dreams: The Art of Elm Street” at The Alternative Gallery, located at 707 North 4th Street, Suite 103 in Allentown, PA 18101.

Be sure to follow Chris Garofalo on TWITTER and FACEBOOK!


Orlando Arocena WOWS with LEGION!

Legion by Orlando Arocena

Legion by Orlando Arocena

Just in time for San Diego Comic Con 2014, master of all vectors, Orlando Arocena, unveils his newest print…THE LEGION OF DOOM!

Come on, how many times did you see the headquarters of the villainous Legion of Doom rise from the murky swamp in the old Justice League cartoon?! This print brings back old memories of Lex Luthor in battle armor and Solomon Grundy smashing stuff!

LEGION is an 18″ x 24″ Giclee print signed and numbered on Matte Enhanced Paper with an edition size of 25. The price is $30.00 per print. Orlando, you’ve done it again! Bravo! Check out this print at Orlando’s website HERE and pick up a copy!


Hasbro Unveils ROM at SDCC 2014!

ROM in Box

ROM in Box

Hasbro have resurrected the popular Mighty Muggs series for an exclusive to San Diego Comic Con 2014, and what character should they feature but Marvel Comics ROM Spaceknight! ROM was one of the very first comic books that I bought as a kid, and I loved the robot warrior in his fight against those dastadly Dire Wraiths! ROM himself hasn’t appeared in a Marvel book in almost thirty years and the excitement level for an exclusive release of this Mighty Mugg warms my fanboy heart!

ROM Spaceknight

ROM Spaceknight

ROM Spaceknight will be exclusive to San Diego Comic Con, will be sold at the Hasbro booth, and will retail for $22.99.

All these exclusives are making me go bonkers! If you’re an old-school fan of ROM, you NEED to pick this up!


Jason Edmiston at SDCC!

The Iron Giant by Jason Edmiston

The Iron Giant by Jason Edmiston

We know, we know…We’re supposed to be on vacation this week. However, we couldn’t let another day go by without posting about all the cool items that Jason Edmiston will have available at San Diego Comic Con 2014!

Sackhead Jason box art by Jason Edmiston

Sackhead Jason box art by Jason Edmiston

Evil Dead 2 Deadite Ash box art by Jason Edmiston

Evil Dead 2 Deadite Ash box art by Jason Edmiston

From box artwork for NECA’s Sackhead Jason and Deadite Ash figures to prints featuring our two favorite Transformers, Optimus Prime and Megatron, we’re super-psyched to see more of what Jason has in store at SDCC.

Optimus Prime by Jason Edmiston

Optimus Prime by Jason Edmiston, 18″x24″ Giclee, AP Edition of 35, $55.00

Megatron by Jason Edmiston, 18"x24" Giclee, AP Edition of 35, $55.00

Megatron by Jason Edmiston, 18″x24″ Giclee, AP Edition of 35, $55.00

Godzilla by Jason Edmiston, 11"x14" Giclee, Edition of 40, $30.00

Godzilla by Jason Edmiston, 11″x14″ Giclee, Edition of 40, $30.00

Frankenberry by Jason Edmiston, 7" Tall x 4.5" wide, Edition of 50, $65.00

Frankenberry by Jason Edmiston, 7″ Tall x 4.5″ wide, Edition of 50, $65.00

Jason’s Frankenberry piece alone is enough to make us wish we had a teleporter to zap us right over to the West Coast! What little we’ve shown here is just a taste of what Jason will have available at his booth. If you’re going to SDCC this year, make it a point to stop by Jason’s booth and check out all the awesome work!


Matthew Griffin’s Gone Darko!

Donnie Darko by Matthew Griffin

Donnie Darko by Matthew Griffin

Our buddy and very talented illustrator from the green fields of Ireland, Matthew Griffin, decided to tackle Donnie Darko. Matt displays amazing illustrative ability once again with this awesome piece, and we have the scoop on it’s creation straight from the mouth of Matt himself!

“Well, I decided to do this as my next poster as an artist friend of mine (Mick Minogue – http://www.mickminogue.com/) suggested my style for The Shining posters would lend itself well to Donnie Darko. It’s one of my favorite films so was happy to make it my next little project.

Before making it I watched the directors cut and was reminded about the repeating symbols of the eye, the chest and Donnie’s link to Frank, so the composition came to me while watching. My initial hope was that it would work upside-down too, but actually the main title doesn’t work that way. I tried a few different arrangements but this was the one I was happiest with! So you can hang it upside-down but it will read ‘Darko Donnie’ (maybe that’s ok)

It’s such a great movie, I hope the poster does it justice.”

Check out more of Matt’s work HERE and be sure to follow him on Twitter!


Donnie Darko variant by Matthew Griffin

Donnie Darko variant by Matthew Griffin

Video Clips From Blurppy’s “Batman 75” Project!


A few months ago I was asked to participate in a top-secret project organized by Blurppy. The project was an illustrated celebration of the last 75 years of Batman. Needless to say, being the HUGE fanboy that I am, this was quite the honor.

I got to work coming up with my illustration, and finishing just days before the project was due. After finishing the illustration, and sending it off to Blurppy, I just didn’t feel satisfied. I felt there was more work that needed to be done in celebration of The Dark Knight. Once I saw all of the wonderful illustrations from the likes of The Poster Posse and special guest artists, I knew what I had to do. I had to create video clips in honor of all the talent present for the project. Enclosed in this Blog posting are the video clips in order from Phase One to Phase Five. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed creating them! You can see all the wonderful illustrations over at Blurppy.com.

Batman by David Brener

Batman by David Brener

Batman 75: Phase Three!

The Face of Gotham by Orlando Arocena

The Face of Gotham by Orlando Arocena

So much awesome work coming from The Poster Posse for this project…I just didn’t know what to do. So, I thought to myself, why don’t I just make an animated comic book?! So that’s what I did, and here it is! Hope you all enjoy and look for more updates as the project continues this week! Hats off to Blurppy and The Poster Posse!


Batman’s 75th Anniversary: Phase Two!

batman75

Yesterday marked Phase Two of Blurppy and The Poster Posse tackling the mythos of Batman. More great work coming from all involved in this project, and we thought we’d put together another little video clip to celebrate the efforts of the illustrators showcased on Blurppy.com! Can’t wait for Phase Three, and the remaining Phases, which run through the rest of the week! See them all at blurppy.com!

Please press the “Play” button to begin the video clip.

Batman by Orlando Arocena

Batman by Orlando Arocena

Blurppy and The Poster Posse Celebrate Batman!

batman75

It’s Batman’s 75th Anniversary, and what better way to celebrate than to have The Poster Posse illustrate their various takes on The Dark Knight! Thanks to Blurppy, the showcase of awesome illustration will take place all week long, and in honor of the amazing illustrators that make up The Poster Posse, I Got Birds will feature some of our favorite work from the project! Be sure to check out Blurppy.com for all the action! Same Bat-Time, Same Bat-Channel!

Press the “Play” button below for a special video clip highlighting some work from The Poster Posse!


batman_cowl