Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Mystery of the Hat Box Ghost

If you've ever been to either either Disneyland...

or Disney World,

 you're probably aware of a little attraction known as the Haunted Mansion. A place where 999 happy haunts inhabit the grounds...but there's always room for one more. Here you will find a cavalcade of creatures and a a gaggle of ghouls ready to make your stay a bit more, ahem, unpleasant. There are many iconic elements to the mansion. From the stretching room...

 to the Doom Buggys...

 and the interactive cemetery, you're sure to find something that sticks in your mind after your visit. Along with these are several kooky and creepy characters who will see on your tour of the mansion. Beginning with the servants who work in the mansion all the way down to Ezra, Phineus and Gus...the Hitchhiking Ghosts who try and follow you home after your visit.

 But one character in particular is a bit more intriguing them all the rest. Sure, the floating head of Madame Leota and Constance the Gold Digging, Axe Murdering Bride who resides in the Mansions attic are both interesting and creepy, but there's another character who trumps all of that...I'm talking about non other than The Hatbox Ghost!

Now, if you've ever been to Disney, or done a bit of digging, I'm sure you've come across an image or two of the Hatbox Ghost. He's the one with the walking stick, a top hat, and most noteably, a hatbox. But if you've ridden the ride anytime in the last 40 plus years, you'd be surprised to find out that you have never seen him inside the ride. Sure he's all over the place on their merchandise...but up until May of 2015 he hadn't been seen in either mansion since it's opening in 1969. "Why in the world is this?" You may ask. Well, to be honest, no one really knows. There are a few theories as to why.

One theory is that he was just too scary! Now that sounds a little ridiculous, considering the title of the attraction is the HAUNTED mansion. I mean, l will admit, he is more menacing than most of the residing ghouls, (Seriously, look at that ugly mug...)

but still it's hard to imagine how something could be dubbed "too scary" in that ride. The answer to that is that when the ride was being built, there were three different art directors. Each one having his own take on what the ride should be. One thought it should be creepy and scary, another thought more on the funnier side, ala the Munsters and The Adams Family, while the other was probably somewhere in the middle. The result it turns out is a mosh pit of all three directions. So Hatbox made it into the ride, with the intention of being scary, but I guess someone overdid it and within a few weeks of the ride opening, he was gone. At least that's one theory.

The other theory is that he just wasn't working quite right. As you make your way through the mansion, you will find a ton of state of the art visual effects, designed to make you think you are really seeing ghosts right in front of your eyes as you pass by. The Hatbox was no different. The idea was, that as you rode by him, he head would disappear from his neck, and reappear in the hatbox he was holding, and the vice versa. Rumor has it that depending on which way you were facing when the transfer took place, the illusion either would or wouldn't work. Sometimes it looked a bit wonky or out of place, and if you know anything about Disney, you know that that's not acceptable. So he was taken out of the mansion and replaced by another visual effect. That theory would hold up except for one thing...Why didn't they fix him? I mean, we are talking about Disney! The company that has been on the forefront of innovation. I just can't buy the idea that they scrapped him after only a few weeks and have only recently returned him to his post. 

So what's the real reason behind the Hatbox's disappearance? I believe the answer lies deeper than just mechanical issues and artistic direction. For such an intriguing character there has got to be more to the story. I believe the real answer lies down a path that most "foolish mortals" would stray away from...but not this one. For to find the answer to the Hatbox Ghost, we must first discover who he is...or was. And to do that, we're going to have to take a journey to a time long forgotten. We will have to travel to a place where the walls still cry with the unfortunate souls who inhibit them. We will have to trudge past the ruins of a once joyful place, that now only acts as a prison to all those affected by the acts done there. Yes, we're going far back to unravel a tale of mystery, matrimony and murder. So join me next time as we travel down memory lane and unravel the mystery that is the Hatbox Ghost.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Captan America: Civil War Trailer

HOLY $#!T I think I died and went to Geek Heaven! 

Unless you live under a rock, or somewhere with no internet connection, or both, you've probably seen or at least heard of Marvel Studios dropping the new trailer for Captain America: Civil War! And let me just say, I think I'm in love!

You can see the full trailer here:

 I'll be honest, as I started watching this trailer, my first thoughts were, "Yawn, just more explosions, and out of context dialogue." But then about half way through, my thoughts changed completely.

Among all of the explosions and dramatic music, we see scenes of a character dressed in what looked to be a techno cat suit. This is none other than Black Panther, the king of Wakanda himself. 

My thoughts on this were, "Cool, we're actually gonna see more of Black Pather, rather than just a quick cameo." Which previously had been the formula for previous Marvel movies when introducing a new character. Hawkeye had like 3 lines in his first appearance in Thor. Black Widow didn't do anything until the end of Iron Man 2, and there's that deleted scene of Captain America frozen in the ice in the Incredible Hulk (Although there is still some debate as to weather that one is canon.) But this...this looked like Black Panther might actually get himself more than a few lines and an action sequence. I started to get a bit more excited, and then it hit me...

"Hey, isn't Spider-Man supposed to be in this movie?"

For those who don't know, previously Spider-man had been a prisoner of Sony. Long before Marvel Comics had their own studios, they sold the movie rights of some of their most famous characters off to Fox and Sony. This brought us movies like the X-Men, Ghost Rider, Daredevil, Fantastic Four and 5 different Spider-Man movies. And while it was nice seeing the web slinger on the big screen, it was always kind of bitter sweet knowing that he could never interact with other characters from the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe). Spidey would have to stand alone against all the villains he faced, and more importantly, he could never grow into the character that I had come to know and love in my 25 plus years of reading comics. He would never be handled with the care and compassion that the company who had created him would have give him. It seemed like a lost cause, and Sony had plans to roll out several more Spider-Man movies, and several spin-offs. Each sounding more and more ridiculous. That is until The Amazing Spider-Man 2 bombed at the box office. Quickly taking advantage of the situation,  Marvel, armed with Disney's almighty checkbook, made a deal to bring Spider-Man to the MCU where he truly belonged. 

Which brings us back to the trailer, and my thought bubbles. 

As the title screen pops up at what I thought was the end of the trailer, with no sign of the Web-Head, I thought to myself, "Oh well, I guess Marvel is just saving him for the actual movie, or maybe we've been teased about him showing up and we would have to wait even longer to see Spidey amongst his super powered companions....and then it happened!

What will probably go down as one of the coolest moments in a trailer I've ever seen did not disappoint. Tony Stark (Iron Man) starts talking some smack to Team Cap, and then just like that, there's that all too familiar "thwip" sound and a shot of a web like substance sticking to Cap's shield. Then, to top it off, the masked hero descends from the sky, scooping up Cap's shield and landing in the always iconic 3 point stance. 

The shot of Spider-Man, finally back where he belongs, holding the shield of Captain America, one of the most definitive symbols of Marvel (if not all of comics), was just too much to handle! I got goose bumps, I gave a fist bump to the imaginary person next to me and even let out a cheer! 

I know this movie is about Captain America and Iron Man. I know it's about choosing sides I know Spider-Man will probably only be in a scene or two. But I don't care! This has been a long time coming and I could not be more thrilled! Welcome home, Spider-Man...I've missed you!
So regardless if your're on Team Cap...

Or Team Iron Man...

You should flock to this see this movie when it opens and enjoy what it sure to be another masterpiece of epic proportions from Marvel Studios!

What did you think of the trailer? Let me know in the comments. 

Captain America: Civil War opens in theaters everywhere Friday, May 6th.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Project Superfriends

Growing up in the mid 80's and early 90's I had the great pleasure of having some of the best Saturday Morning Cartoons in the history of ever! Especially once Cartoon Network showed up and brought a lot of the cartoons I was too young to enjoy when they were on back to the forefront. Everything from Thundercats and GI Joe to Scooby Doo and Josie and the Pussycats. If it was animated, I was in! Among all of those amazing animated treasure was a little show called Superfriends! The cartoon showcased some of DC Comics finest super heroes facing off against some of its most dastardly villains.

The shows roster changed through each of its itinerations. Each one adding a character or two to the main roster.

These characters ranged from the useless...

To the obscure...

To the downright stereotypical (I mean seriously, Apache Chief??)
All of that being said, the show really hit a chord with me. It struck a nerve as a young boy and opened my eyes to this world of Super Powered beings! To be honest, this show pretty much sent me down the road of geeky, nerdy goodness that I've been on ever since.

So, given how important this show was to me, I have decided to start a series of drawings which I entitled "Project Superfriends" I will most as many as I can, when the time becomes available. By the end of his project, I plan to have drawn every hero that has ever made an appearance on Superfriends, or any of its later titles. (Yes, that means even Marvin, Wendy and Wonderdog) So without further ado, I give you the first offering of "Project Superfriends!" Enjoy














There's more to come so stay tuned. And thanks for reading!

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Obligatory Introduction

Hi there! Thanks for finding your way over to my blog, Building A Hero! I know, I know, you're thinking "Wow! What an amazing title for a blog! This guy must be some kind of super amazing writer!" Well please, hold your applause. No need to get crazy. (OK, but I didn't expect to hear crickets!) 

In all honesty, this is my very first crack at blogging (Shocking I know!). I've wanted to do something along these lines for a long while now, and with some much needed nudging from my lovely wife, I finally sat down and started one. 

So what is this blog? What is the content you can expect to receive? What words of wisdom will I be dropping on you from the World Wide Web? The truthful answer is that, I'm not really sure. 

I've been told that one should write about what they know, and well, I know quite a bit about a lot of things...mostly things based in Pop Culture. I'm sort of a Geek of all trades, if you will. There are quite a lot of things that interest me. I dabble quite a bit in the fantasy/science fiction world. Anything from Star Wars to Harry Potter, Batman to Dr. Who, the Wizard of Oz to Peter Pan and pretty much anything in between, or in the far reaches of space and time. So expect some entries on those subjects as we go along.

As I create this blog, I have several I ideas floating through my head. I feel as thought I could do lots of things on here, and as time progresses, we will see which of those ideas come to fruition. Some of them include, movie reviews, posting pics of my artwork, talking about and reviewing Lego sets (Yep, I'm an AFOL (more on that later)), and hopefully sharing some words about my adventures in raising my little girl.

So if you came here looking for commentary on religious and political topics, or you're looking for the scoop on what Justin Bieber is up to these days, well, you should have been redirected by now. If by chance you're still here, thank you! I hope to make this something you will enjoy reading and add a little bit of fun to your day.

So follow me, if you dare, into the wardrobe, through the looking glass, down the yellow brick road and straight on til morning to a world of fantasy and fun!