U.S. Acres Down On The Farm!

Welcome back to Rotten Ink and for this 10 Year Anniversary update and for this update I figured why not vist the Sunday Funnies and take a look at a comic strip that I loved as a kid that also spawned a cartoon series that was must watch TV for me and better yet it was created by Jim Davis the mastermind behind Garfield and I am of course talking about U.S. Acres the fun farm set and animal led strip that was all the rage for a very short amount of time. And you guys know me I have a soft spot for the old comic strips of my youth as well as even discovering new ones so one of these updates had to be featured. So grab a glass of milk, coffee or orange juice sit at the place you eat breakfast and lets dive into the world of U.S. Acres and see what Orson Pig and his friends have in store for us!

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U.S. Acres was a comic strip created by Jim Davis the man behind the Garfield strip and was set on a farm that featured talking animals and their times living on the farm as well as dealing with each others zany personalities. The Comic strip started in 1986 and would run in Newspapers all over North America and was a hit with young kids as well as adults would get a chuckle from its silly humor. Jim Davis would work on the strip with his assistant Brett Koth who was also helping on the Garfield strip at the time. The cast of characters include strip star Orson Pig a good natured Pig who was the leader of the barnyard, Booker was a small chick who was saved as an egg and hatched and cared for by Orson who Booker calls Mom, he has a little attitude but is a good kid. Sheldon is bookers brother and has the same back story of being found and saved by Orson, he however is still stuck in his shell and is super smart. Bo and Lanolin are brother and sister sheep with Bo being nice and Lanolin being a mean loudmouth. Wade Duck is a duck who is scared of water and wears a pool inner tube around the farm, is one of Orson’s friends. Cody is the farms puppy and Blue is the farms kitten. Filbert is a worm who has a family with wife Estelle and son Willy. And lastly is Roy Rooster who is a joker and is kind of the series bad guy as he lives pranks and teasing, but also is a friend to them all. The comic strip was so popular that it would spawn merchandise as well as a cartoon (but more on them a little latter) and would run until 1988. The strip would make a comeback as a WebComic in 2010 and in 2019 Viacom would buy Paws, Inc. from Jim Davis and they would now own Garfield and U.S. Acres and the comic strip would end again in 2020. Now in the hands of Nickelodeon the fate of U.S. Acres is unknown at this time, and lets all hope the strip makes a comeback.

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Garfield And Friends was an animated show that aired on CBS for Saturday Morning Cartoons and started on September 17, 1988 and would run for seven seasons with 121 episodes made and the show would end in 1994. The show was 30 minute episodes (later two back to back episodes) and would feature segments of Garfield as well as U.S. Acres and would be a super popular cartoon that was must see TV and one that I can remember watching as a kid as well as talking with my friends at school about. And this is the case of all segments being good and both the Garfield and U.S. Acres being on equal ground, even if Garfield was the main star of the cartoon. Garfield And Friends was must see Saturday Morning Cartoons TV as it was super popular and was even as popular when reran after the shows run came to an end. Episodes of the show was released on VHS and later the whole series was released via DVD volumes, and these sadly are out of print and are going for high prices. But fear not the first three seasons of the show have been released again and are budget priced. If you grew up when this showed aired or discovered it on home media decades later you know how much fun this cartoon was and is one that showed be viewed still to this day.

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Besides reprints of the comic strip U.S. Acres would get a good amount of other merchandise for fans that would include kids story books, key chains, stickers, posters, shirts and plush dolls. Its crazy to think that U.S. Acres is not as well knows as Garfield and that the merchandise is way harder to find then Garfield’s as I feel that both are amazing comic strips and should get more love then they do in the modern times. As a kid I had many of the paperback books as well as a keychain of Orson Pig. I would love to get some of the plush dolls now and have them in my classic toy collection. But if you are a fan of U.S. Acres there is lots of cool stuff for you to collect.

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So as you can see U.S. Acres was a big part of my childhood and even still to this day I love these characters and the world that Jim Davis created for them. Plus I mean fans of Garfield should also enjoy this comic strip as they are set in the same universe. But we are now at the time for the review for this update and I first want to thank the Etsy and Amazon sellers for having this book in stock and allowing me to read these again, as book 6 is the one Paperback version that I remember owning as a kid! I want to also remind you readers that I grade these comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comics stay to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So if you are ready lets take a stroll around U.S. Acres and see what Orson and his friends have in store for us.

U.S. Acres Take This Rooster Please Book 1

U.S. Acres: Take This Rooster Please!  ***
Released in 1990    Cover Price $2.50     Berkley Books    # 6 of 6

This book is tons of one-page stories of the U.S. Acres crew having silly and loveable adventures! So while I cannot cover each one I will select 10 of my favorite strips in no real order. First: Roy Roster is on the barn roof and is mad when the weathervane that looks like a rooster will not talk to him, making Roy thinks that the other rooster is snubbing him. Second: Orson Pig uses earplugs so that Roy Rooster cannot wake him with his early morning call, but Roy has another way of waking up Orson as he pours a bucket of water on him. Third: Orson Pig is making a garden with Booker and Sheldon, and when he calls for the seeds to planet we see a big belled Booker passed out with a empty big box that reads seeds. Fourth: Sheldon is looking at himself in a trick mirror and he gets worried when he sees that he no longer looks like an egg but a peanut. Fifth: Orson, Roy, Booker and Sheldon sneak into the Farmers home to borrow some Christmas ornaments for their barnyard tree and they find Sheldon in the refrigerator kicking out eggs saying he is setting them free. Sixth: Sheldon and Booker try and stay awake Christmas Eve so they can see Santa Claus, but when they fall asleep Santa ends up putting them to bed and tucking them in. Seventh: Sheldon is wearing an Elvis wig and big lift shoes and has Orson write a thank you letter to Santa, as well as ask for help on how to walk in the massive heeled shoes! Eighth: Cody Dog is walking around with feathers in his mouth and Orson asks him why, and he says he ate Roy but before he can finish that he at his Pillow Orson freaks out and runs around screaming that Cody ate Roy! Ninth: It’s bedtime and Orson heads to brush his teeth when he tries his toothbrush bounces all over, he is supper mad, as someone has slipped him a rubber toothbrush. Tenth: Booker and Sheldon have made a small snowman when Roy runs by and kicks it, so the brother make another bigger one and as Roy runs over to kick it he smashes into a tree as the brother built it around one to teach the rude Rooster a lesson.

This Paperback Book that reprinted some of the classic comic strips is a great read and an amazing flashback for me as it made me remember just how much I loved these characters as a kid. This book does a great job of giving every character a time to shine and have some funny moments. The only one that I feel is a little left out is Wade Duck who has less panel time then the rest. I do like that they also give a little attention to side characters like Blue The Kitten and Cody The Puppy as for most of the time they are the characters that seem to be forgotten and are not aloud to shine as brightly as the main cast, but here they are given respect and time to bring some chuckles. Orson of course gets lots of the pages dedicated to his zany life as does Booker and Sheldon and they are clearly the comic strips main stars and are some of the most loved characters. Roy Rooster who is my favorite gets some great gags in this book and his terrible jerky rude attitude is in full effect as he is mean and yet also friendly too much of the cast! The cover is great and eye catching and is the one I remember the most as a kid, with the interior art by Jim Davis being topnotch comic strip stuff. Over all if you love U.S. Acres like I do get this Paperback Book and enjoy the flashback of barnyard humor. Check out the artwork bellow to see the style used in this book as well as almost all of the characters.

US Acres Art 1

I love Comic Strips and it’s a shame that they are not as big as they once were and that modern day kids will not understand the excitement of Sunday Mornings rushing to read the Funnie Pages as well as look at the Toy Ads from your favorite department store all the while eating breakfast. And its sad also that this generation of Kids who do love comic strips will not get to enjoy U.S. Acres and if they do they will have to find the strips online or track down one of these books that tend to be a little pricy, but its worth it if you like light hearted humor of comic strips and Davis. But as you can see we are at the end of this Funnie Page update and for our next one we will be heading to the world of Lucha Libre to take a look at the first in the “Indie Luchador Files” series and I promise it will be a fun one! So until next time read a comic or three, watch a film or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next update at the Rotten Ink Arena!

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A Garfield NES Christmas Eve Challenge!

Merry Christmas Eve to all my family, friends and readers!  I am sure that you’re like me and are looking forward to spending your holiday with loved ones and remembering the past Christmases. When thinking about what topic to cover for this Holiday update, I racked my brain to pick one that would be not only fun but also nostalgic for all of you. I thought about covering an Amazing Spider-Man storyline that took place during Christmas, I thought about covering one of the following toys that had comics Dino Riders, Air Raiders or Battle Beasts that are all toys from my youth. I even thought about covering the Horror Movie Krampus and the comic based on the film. But in the end I decided that I was once more going to cover Garfield as looking back on his Halloween Special a few months ago made me want to re-read his Christmas Special! So make yourself a mug of hot coco and be ready to spend a part of your holiday with Garfield and me as we have a cheerful good time.

Jim Davis is the creator of the Garfield comic strip, and I think we should take a brief moment to talk about him and his life. Davis was born on July 28, 1945 in Marion, Indiana and lived the farm life with his family and their 25 pet cats! Davis was a member of Theta Xi Fraternity while at Bell State University where he studied business and art, and in 2016, he himself became an adjunct professor at Bell State. In 1969 Davis worked for an advertising agency and helped on the comic strip Tumbleweeds as well created his own strip called Gnorm Gnat that ran in Indiana newspapers. He would create Garfield in 1978 and it would become a major hit in the world of comic strips with over 300 million readers on a daily bases! With the popularity of Garfield, Davis opened up Paws Inc. in 1981 in order to manage the high demand of the character as well as created the Professor Garfield Foundation that helps promote children’s literacy. Along the way he also created the comic strip “U.S. Acres” and “Mr. Potato Head” based on the classic toy. Over the years, Jim Davis has been married twice and has three kids. He has won a number of awards for his art and comic strip work. At the time of this update, Jim is 73 years old and shows no signs of slowing down and continues to deliver a high quality entertaining comic strip based around a character that is well loved worldwide.

On December 21, 1987, the cartoon animated special “A Garfield Christmas” was first shown and entertained the young and young at heart. Being a youngster who was really into Garfield, I can remember waiting and counting down the days to when this was coming on, and as always, my parents were super cool and let my brother and I watch it as they always did for Holiday Cartoon specials. And I must say most of Garfield’s holiday specials have always had a special place in my heart just like the Peanuts ones as they were always must watches for the holidays for me and my brother. A Garfield Christmas special was loosely based on Jim Davis’ holidays with his family, and he added some dramatic plots to spice it up and give it that make sure to always cherish your loved ones vibe. The special was nominated for awards and was well liked by viewers and critics and would run on TV all the way till 2000 before finally being taken out of broadcast rotation. In 2004, the special was released on DVD and was a big hit with buyers who wanted to watch this holiday special again. Say what you will but if you grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, I am pretty sure you watched and enjoyed this special at least once in your life. I want to also note that before the DVD this special was also released on VHS for fans to own and watch when ever the mood struck them.

Growing up, between my brother Bryan and I, we had lots of cool Garfield toys and one of the oldest things we had was a very old plush doll of the fat cat. It was my brother’s, and I am not sure were he got it from, I just remember it was around in our youth. We also had several PVC style figures that I can remember playing with in my Toy Wars as Garfield was always on the side of the Jedi and was always back at the Rebel base alongside other “good guy” figures. I can also remember growing up having some Garfield items that came from McDonalds like glass mugs that was released in 1987 and can remember drinking Kool-Aid, Milk and Pop from them while watching cartoons or Horror Host shows on USA Network. I also remember owning a few of the Happy Meal Toys from 1988 that had a mini Garfield figure and a vehicle. Not to mention, we also had many of his comic strip books that I would get from School book fairs and from Half Price Books. So as I have said, Garfield was always around in my youth.

The Nintendo Entertainment System was a major force in the 80’s and 90’s as home console video games were at a fever pitch, and any kid who wanted to be cool had to have a system and tons of games to impress the neighborhood kids and school yard pals. In fact, we Brassfield Brothers got our first video game system that was a Nintendo for Christmas one year, and we could not get enough games fast enough. One game that was made but never released here in America was one called “A Week Of Garfield,” a side-scrolling game released in Japan on home computers that was met with very mixed reviews that has you as Garfield having to save Odie in a week in game time. But thanks to the fine folks at Fan Brew Games I am able to get my hands on a copy of the game that plays in the RES System and one I can have a NES Challenge with! So take a drink from your Hot Coco as we are about to go gaming, and see if we can save Odie for this Holiday season of 2018.

After waiting forever for Fan Brew Games to send me the game as it was a special order, I chose October 16 2018 to play the game as the weather outside was perfect to stay indoors and get my retro game playing on. So I hooked up the good old RES (Retro Entertainment System) and put the game into the system and hit power and was ready to save Odie! And sadly my original RES died, and I had to select another day as I had to buy a new one. So the next day I selected was December 19 and I poured myself a tall glass of water as well as some cola and set my sights to focused on my mission at hand and that’s to beat A Week Of Garfield for the NES well or at least give it a good play. My first impression of the game when firing it up was that this game had a cool soundtrack as well as some good classic 8-Bit graphics…but then I started to play this game, and all I can say is, wow is it boring! As Garfield, all you can do is walk, crawl, look up and kick and for the most part all you do is dodge bugs, frogs, mice and other animals and when hit, your blood goes down pretty fast. You start with only one life and this leads to you playing the same levels over and over…and sad to say readers and friends, all I can say is this is one I walked away from after playing for a little under an hour as it’s just so bland and I felt I could do something better with my day before work like watch some Horror Movies and read some comics. So in other words, avoid this game unless you’re a massive Garfield fan and like games about walking.

I also want to let you all know that the Cinemassacre did a video play through this game that had James Rolfe and Mike Matei trying to play and review “A Week Of Garfield” back in 2017. And hearing these two play this game was lots of fun as they pointed out the flaws and over all cheesy nature of this kids game. And for those who enjoy video game and movie reviews and discussions, check out their Youtube station as it’s always packed with fun uploads. So did they like it, well you will have to watch the video and find out!

So now that you have all seen me fail at beating a kid’s game of Garfield for the NES, we should gather around the warm fireplace and take a look at the comic strip book adaptation of the Garfield Christmas Special! I want to thank an Etsy seller for having this book in stock. Plus as I sit here near the fire, my cat Leslie wants me to remind you all that I am grading this book on a star scale of 1 to 4 and you are looking for how well the book stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So take a drink of your eggnog or hot coco as it’s time to spend a part of Christmas Eve with the Arbuckle Family as well as Odie and Garfield!

A Garfield Christmas # 1  **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price $5.95     Ballantine Books   # 1 of 1

Garfield is having a dream about a mechanical Santa Claus that will give him any gift he can think of, and just as he is getting all the jewels and riches he can think of, he is awoken by Jon who needs him to get ready for their trip to spend Christmas with his family. Jon along with presents and his pets Garfield & Odie hit the road and arrive at the family’s farm in no time. They are all greeted by Ma and Pa Arbuckle as well as Grandma and Doc Boy who is Jon’s brother. Jon goes out and helps his dad and brother do some chores around the farm as Odie and Garfield as well must go outside and “help” before they all can have a good home cooked meal. After dinner as a family they set up the Christmas Tree, sing a carol together and even Pa reads them all a Christmas tale! Garfield all the while bonds with the Grandma who feeds him food during dinner and sits in a rocking chair and pets him while remembering back to her husband who is no longer with us. That night they all go to sleep with joy and love in their hearts as the next day is Christmas and it’s a perfect snowy night. The next morning Jon and Doc Boy open their presents, Garfield gets one from Odie and the final gift given is when Garfield finds old love letters in the barn written by the deceased Grandpa to the Grandma when they first started dating! In the end the Arbuckle family are happy to have each other for the holiday, and Garfield lets everyone know that the best thing about Christmas is love.

This comic strip book captures the good feelings of Christmas and showcases the small country feel for this holiday as family is very important and chores still have to be done. The plot of this one is simple and has Jon, Odie and Garfield visiting Jon’s family at their farm for Christmas and all spend time together and just enjoy being around each other and partaking in family traditions. Jon Arbuckle is a man who loves his family and his pets and while he has been away from the family farm, he still lends a hand when needed and tries his best to do it the best he can when clearly he is rusty at farm life. Garfield while still being himself in this books shows lots of love to his family and is not only super kind to Odie but also has a real bond with Jon’s Grandma who is clearly having a rough time missing her husband who has passed away, and while Grandma is a very strong woman with a big personality she still has a soft side that enjoys sitting by the window watching the snow come down and petting a cat. Odie is as fun loving as ever and even makes Garfield a present that’s a back scratcher. Once more Odie shows that he is just an all around good dog. Ma and Pa Arbuckle are good folks who enjoy their farming life and celebrate the holidays with big meals and lots of love. Doc Boy who is Jon’s brother is a farm boy who enjoys having his brother around as they always seem to be picking on each other. What really works for me the most about this comic strip book is the atmosphere as who doesn’t want to spend the holidays with loved ones with good food, great talks with snow fall coming down and no place to go! There is just something very special about this book and Garfield in general for me as I really does bring me back to my childhood and when times were simple and everything seemed larger than life. The cover for this book is fantastic and has the Arbuckle Family with Garfield and Odie sitting around a piano and the tree enjoying carols. Jim Davis’s art is as always on point and is classic 70’s and 80’s Comic Strip stuff. This was a prefect read for me and was one great flashback as well, so if you like Garfield and want to read a simple Christmas comic strip this one is for you. Check out the art below to see the holiday cheer that are packed into each panel of this book.

Thanks for spending a part of your Christmas Eve with me here at Rotten Ink as this update. I hope made you think back to your connection to Garfield as well as the NES and just brought a little cheer to your day. Well for me I am going to sit back with a mug full or eggnog while sitting in my backyard and look back at how great this year has been for me when it came to creative stuff! But I will not take up any more of your Holiday time and with that I will see you next update as I break down my best in cinema for 2018! I think I hear Santa and his reindeer, so I need to say I hope you all have a great Christmas and I will see you here again in 2019!

Garfield vs. The Ghost Pirates On Halloween Night!

October is almost here. The air is turning cold, and the ghouls and ghosts are gearing up to run the streets in preparation of Halloween, which is only slightly over a month away! For this third countdown to Halloween update I wanted to take a look at something that I owned as a kid. The TV special it was based on was something I watched every year, and of course I am talking about “Garfield Halloween Adventure” that was shown on local TV and was something I truly had to watch when on. Garfield is a comic strip character I grew up reading in the Sunday Funny Papers; next to Peanuts it was a must. I also grew up watching all of his TV specials as well as his regular cartoon series. While I love the toon “Garfield and Friends,” the specials all hold a special place in my heart. Not to mention I also would buy his books, and between my brother and I, we had many of his toys and stuff animals. Garfield really is an iconic character who for the most part has withstood the test of time, and it’s with great pleasure that on this update we not only get one step closer to Halloween but also take a look back at things from my childhood. So get a costume on and let’s go trick or treating with Garfield and Odie.

On October 30th 1985 CBS premiered the 24-minute “Garfield Halloween Adventure,” which combined two of my favorite things Halloween and Garfield! My brother Bryan and I were glued to the TV and watched with pure delight as the cartoon special brought some scares and lots of entertainment. We also made sure to tape it on Beta and watched it all the time year round. The best part of this airing was that it was paired with the very classic “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and made for the perfect Halloween season viewing. I can also remember many of the kids on the playground chatting about it, and everyone flipped when the comic strip book adaptation of it was offered in the Scholastic Book Club order form, with almost every kid I knew ordering it. The cartoon also did well in the TV ratings and almost all critics loved and praised it making it a staple for the holiday up until 2015 when it was finally taken off the schedule for good. The special also won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program and was the third Garfield special to win it, showing that he was one of the 80’s most popular cartoon characters. After its airing, the special would go on to be released on VHS and DVD and still is a well loved classic Halloween TV special.

So at this point I am sure you’re ready to take a Halloween Adventure with that lasagna loving fat orange cat Garfield and his simple minded canine friend Odie. I know that I am as I have not read this comic strip book since I was a kid, and am looking forward to seeing if it holds up as I loved it when I was a kid and re-read it every Halloween up until I was a teen. This is in my opinion is a great way to gear up for October and is a perfect third update for our countdown to Halloween. Before we get our trick or treat bags ready, I need to remind you that I am grading this book on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. I want to think Amazon for having this in stock and making this update possible. So lets costume up and go out with Garfield and see how much candy or even rocks we can get!

Garfield In Disguise # 1  ***1/2
Released in 1985     Cover Price $5.95     Ballantine Books    # 1 of 1

Garfield is awoken by Binky The Clown on TV who screams and demands that all of the viewers exercise with him, and right as Garfield turns off the TV, he hears the words Free Candy and quickly turns it back on to find out that it’s Halloween! Garfield goes around the house under a bed sheet and scares Jon and Odie and even has a little breakfast before tricking Odie into going trick of treating with him so he can get double the candy. Garfield and Odie go to the attic and look through old clothes and items and decide to go as pirates when finding costumes in a chest. After stealing Jon’s lasagna dinner, Garfield and Odie head out and start trick of treating! As they wander the streets getting candy and being spooked by real life ghouls and ghost, they end up getting into a rowboat and by accident they lose the paddles and float until they land on shore.  The only house around is an abandoned one lit by a fire. Once inside, they warm themselves by the fire and are surprised by a very old man who warns them that the island is haunted and that the ghosts of pirates from a hundred years back will be back at midnight to claim their buried treasure! While Garfield and Odie are shaking with fear, the old man steals their boat and leaves them at the mercy of the coming ghost pirates! Garfield and Odie hide in a cabinet as the ghosts appear and bring up their hidden treasure, and when a sneeze alerts the ghosts who chase them out of the house, Garfield steals a ring from the treasure chests. He and Odie jump into the water and swim to shore. Once on shore they find their candy and the boat and head home only to be attacked by the ghost pirates who followed them home. Once Garfield returns the ring they disappear, and Garfield and Odie go home where Garfield shares the candy with Odie and Halloween comes to an end.

This comic strip book is a great mood setter for Halloween as it captures the playful nature of trick or treat and the spooky feeling of that night. Our story has Garfield and Odie going out for Halloween in order to get lots of free candy.  When Garfield gets greedy, he leads them to an old abandoned haunted house, and they are witnessed and stalked by ghost pirates who have returned after 100 years! As I said the feel and atmosphere of this comic strip book is fantastic and much like “Legend Of Sleepy Hollow” really captures the feel of Halloween. Garfield lives up to his normal behavior and is self-absorbed, self centered and always looking for food to gorge on, but while he is sarcastic, he also does have a caring and grateful side. Odie is your typical dog that is loyal, goofy and smart and several times in this adventure saves Garfield’s butt from danger. Jon is just around in this one, mostly carving pumpkins and tying to enjoy meals that his cat ends up stealing. The old man who once worked for the pirates some 100 years ago is creepy and seems to get joy scaring those who stumble into his old home, plus the Ghost Pirates are very much mean and scary but really just want their treasure. This comic strip book does justice to the made for TV cartoon special and does a great job of capturing the mood and only thing missing is the musical numbers. Jim Davis, who is the creator and mastermind behind the world of Garfield, does the art and story, and both are well done and show why Garfield has remained a popular comic strip character all these years. The cover as well is amazing and eye catching and has a real kid friendly Halloween look to it. If you enjoy Garfield and love Halloween, this is a great read and one that brought back lots of great memories of my youth, and this comic strip book held up well and is a great read. So check it out as well as the art from it.

I hope that this update has put you into the Halloween spirit like it did for me writing it! Made for TV Halloween specials are something that almost seems as if they are dying off as most broadcast stations only focus on their current shows and allow them to do a Halloween episode that most of the time are not very good with only a handful of series being able to pull it off. But for me just like “It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown,” the Garfield Halloween Special is a one of my all time favorites and is one I suggest you watch every year. But now we have to leave the world of Garfield and the ghost pirates behind for our next update as we are now in full countdown to Halloween mode and our next one will have us looking at another in what I call “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” as we look at the killer Metalface and his film series Playing With Dolls! So until next time, read a comic or two, watch a cartoon or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next update for a bloody good time.