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.

Made For TV: Halloween With The New Addams Family

Hey friends and readers! As you can see I am a little behind here at Rotten Ink as I have moved!! That’s right I have a new home base and sadly my comic collection is all over the place.  This has made it impossible for me to find the comics I need! So I’m sad to say that The Mummy has been put on the back burner until I can find it, and to hold you over, I will use a fill in update.  So sit back and enjoy this write up I did a few years back. I should note that this was to start off a update series called Made For TV that would have had me talking about all the movies made for the small screen I grew up watching, so sit back and enjoy this “lost” update as I have more unpacking to do!

Welcome back fellow Comic readers.  For this update, I decided to take a break from the ink filled comic pages and instead took a look at a made for TV reunion special. In 1977, NBC decided that after 9 years off the air, the world needed a Halloween special with The Addams Family! This special, simply named “Halloween With The New Addams Family,” would act as a reunion for the cast as all but one original cast member stepped back into their cooky outfits and hammed it up for the viewers. The only original actor not to appear was Blossom Rock, who played Grandmama, as she has very ill at the time so actress Jane Rose stepped in to fill the role. I first saw this special on a VHS that was put out via Goodtimes Video that I bought for cheap from the secondhand store called Replay Media.  After the first watch, I was not super impressed but did enjoy the over all silly nature. In 2014, I decided to watch this special again and while it has never made it to DVD, I was able to get a copy on DVD-R to watch again and bring you this update that I am calling “Made For TV: Halloween With The New Addams Family”, so sit back and enjoy this look at a true gem of television.

The first really cool thing that one will notice when finding this special on VHS or DVD-R is the fact that the cast from the classic spooky TV show is back, and while older, most of them don’t seem to miss a beat. John Astin plays Gomez Addams and is still terrific in the role as he does all his classic faces from when he’s sad to when his wife speaks French to him and his eyes bug out.  Astin is one of my favorite TV actors and truly doesn’t miss a step in the ’77 special proving he was born to play this part! Carolyn Jones plays Morticia Addams and is also terrific in her performance and is as deadpan and sexy as ever. Between her, Yvonne De Carlo (Lily Munster) and Elvira Mistress of the Dark, they are the reason I grew up loving Goth girls. While it’s clear she is older in this special, she still holds that magnetic charm and appeal not only with her appearance but also with her acting. Jackie Coogan returns as Uncle Fester, and while great in what he does, to me it seems as if his character takes a backseat and is not given anything to make him the stand out character he truly is. Ted Cassidy rocks it once more as the butler Lurch and like the rest thus far doesn’t miss a step in his performance and delivers all the deep voiced grunts and lines fans would want to hear. Felix Silla returns as Cousin Itt and is what you would expect from a character that doesn’t talk and his sounds are added in after it filming. Lisa Loring plays Wednesday Addams again, and she does a great job and hams up her performance making it feel like your watching an episode of the Banana Splits.  I must say she grew up to be a very pretty young lady. Ken Weatherwax plays Pugsley Addams, and while it was nice to see him in the role again, he was not a very good actor in this special, and it almost seems like he knows he’s being too cheesy by the smiles on his face. The rest of the cast as new to the legacy of The Addams Family so I will rush through them as this is the only thing they did for this series: Henry Darrow plays Pancho Addams who is the younger brother to Gomez and is really good and his performance is a more sleazy version of Astin’s Gomez. Jane Rose takes over the role of Grandmama and while she tries, she just ain’t no Blossom Rock, as she seems to be missing something that makes her the lovable creepy character from the show. The rest of the cast all do a great job and all add the right amount of silly and hammy to their performances.

Made for TV Movies that acted as reunions for shows were not uncommon and many shows did this such as The Brady Bunch, Saved By The Bell, The Incredible Hulk and Dukes of Hazzard, to name a few. Many times they were made for cheap and to cash in on the remaining fan base who wanted to catch up with their favorite characters, while other times they acted as a way to pitch a return series to see if a fan base was still willing to watch a show’s return to TV. The TV Reunion movie had been a thing of the past when I first rewatched this special, but recently, we’re seeing TV reunions in the form of special event seasons of shows like Gilmore Girls, The X-Files, and very excitingly just announced, Roseanne. Below I am going to talk about the plot of this special and then after that my thoughts on it.  So let’s turn on the boob tube and enjoy this 1977 flashback.

Halloween With The New Addams Family
Starring – John Astin & Carolyn Jones       DVD-R        Not Rated         1977

The Addams Family is having a Halloween Party for family only, but Gomez has to leave town in order to become a higher-ranking member of his club. But in town is Pancho, his brother who has a crush on Morticia and is trying to take over the Addams home! Also around at the Addams Mansion are Wednesday Junior and Pugsley Junior younger kids of the Addams, Uncle Fester, Thing, Lurch and Grandmama all helping out to get the party just right for the family reunion Halloween party. Meanwhile a gang of thugs have the mansion bugged and want to steal the family fortune while Gomez is away, even going so far as to send one of their own into the Addams home to get a look around acting as an inspector. This con man watches as Wednesday and Pugsley return home, each with new careers as Pugsley is now a Witch Doctor and Wednesday studies and plays music.  He also watches as the spirits of the deceased members of the family make noises from their graves, their pet lion attacks him for stepping on it’s tail and even is attacked by a plant! The con man escapes and returns to home base ranting out of his mind and quits the team, but this does not stop the others from going through with their plan to steal the fortune.

This special was clearly made to try and help usher in a New Addams Family TV series, but I think by 1977 and making it in color some of the charm of what the series was about, poking fun at society and classic cheesy black and white horror films of that time, was lost. But with this said, this made for TV special also has a lot of charm and captures the feel of late 70’s programs with the laugh track that seems like it was taken from Scooby-Doo cartoons to all the lame and dated jokes. I loved the updated sets with the cemetery backyard being really cool as is the new and improved mansion. One thing that makes this movie interesting as well is the fact they added two new kids to the family and named them Wednesday Junior and Pugsley Junior showing that if a new series was to be made they would still capture the kid characters with these two new brats, and the original kids would be reduced to cameos from time to time. Speaking of the older kids, I must say that Lisa Loring as the grown up Wednesday was stunning and in one scene she is dressed as a tennis player for Halloween and she is very attractive, plus it weird cause they have her playing a piccolo a lot in this film and at times it almost comes off sexual, but I was A-Ok with it. What made this cheesy made for TV film work is seeing all the classic characters together again on the screen.  I mean Lurch, Thing, Uncle Fester and all the other Addams clan have always felt like family to those who grew up watching them during first run or even reruns and while this reunion movie is flawed and not perfect, it’s still an amazing watch that offers lots of entertainment for fans who just love the Addams Family. So if you get the chance and find this on VHS, DVD-R or if a TV Station ever decides to play it again make sure to give it a watch as its filled with laughs, eye rolling moments and a classic 70’s feel.

Halloween With The New Addams Family is a forgotten gem of films made for TV and is one that’s mostly over looked in the history of chatting with friends about The Addams Family. So what I would like right now is for all you readers and friends to take a moment and let me know in the comments below if you remember watching this film? What were your memories and thoughts about it? How did you enjoy seeing the characters back? So go on and don’t be shy. Leave a comment below and share with me about Halloween With The New Addams Family!

We will be leaving the world of Made For TV Movies and moving away from The Addams Family.  Next we’re taking a look at the world of Horror Comics and my love for them as I revisit a comic series called Body Count that was released by Aircel at the start of the late 80’s. So I hope you had a great time with this update, and who knows, maybe I will do another update in the Made For TV series. So until next time read a comic or two, watch some TV and as always support your local Horror Host!