Ohio is known for many monsters, ghosts and beasts, and this is a great thing for a person like me who loves everything about the unknown and Cryptozoology. For those who don’t know what Cryptozoology is, Webster Dictionary has this as its meaning: ” the study of and search for animals and especially legendary animals (as Sasquatch) usually in order to evaluate the possibility of their existence”. From this form of study, one of my favorites is Sasquatch,better known as Bigfoot, and Ohio has had its share of Bigfoot sightings! So in this update we are going to take a look at IDW’s 4 issue miniseries, Bigfoot! This series is written by shock rocker and horror filmmaker Rob Zombie and Steve Niles, the man behind comic series 30 DAYS OF NIGHT. Now I know what your thinking: Matt this is not a classic Star or Marvel Comic, or even a old DC issue, and it’s not even that old only coming out in 2005. I understand that it breaks the mold that has been set but I figured since this is a blog about my youth and fun stories, then why not take a look at Bigfoot!
Bigfoot has been around since time has been recorded, and many Native American tribes have spoke of a giant hairy man that lived in the woods. Even outside of the USA sightings and records have been documented about the appearance of this creature. What is always reported alongside this unknown creature is large foot prints, a foul oder, howls and yells and even UFO’s in some cases.The most famous case that even got us quick video footage of the creature is the infamous Patterson Film. On October 20th 1967 Roger Patterson (an author) and his friend Robert Gimlin were horseback riding in Bluff Creek when by a creek bed they spotted a Bigfoot. The creature was none combative and quickly retreated into the woods but not before Patterson was able to get his camera and take some footage of the creature. The footage was a media hit and gained Patterson and Gimlin fame among believers, but many people thought the story and film to be a hoax due to the holes in the friends’ story. Patterson died in 1972 of cancer but held strong that his footage is real. Gimlin, who is still alive and tours Bigfoot conventions as well, still holds to the story. But the debate remains to this day on whether or not this footage is fact of fiction. I happen to think that it’s very possible that this is in fact footage of a Bigfoot!
But with anything that is unproved without a shadow of doubt, there are hoaxes and one of the most recent ones came in 2008 when Rick Dyer and Matthew Whitton claimed that they found a dead Bigfoot in the woods of Georgia and had the body frozen in a freezer. This discovery lead the two men to press conferences on many major news outlets that included CNN and BBC, and gained them $50,000 from a Bigfoot research team for the body. But when the body was dropped off and thawed it was shown that the frozen Bigfoot was in fact a suit stuffed complete with roadkill animal guts. The suit was purchased from The Horror Dome, a Halloween online super store. Dyer and Whitton got in trouble for being pranksters and this sparked a rash of more hoaxes. One funny thing that happened after this event was on EBAY the Bigfoot Costume’s head became up for auction inside a cooler. When this story first broke that a Bigfoot body had been found, I was working for a used media store called Buy Backs, and I kept telling my store manager that they found him. He had also seen the picture and thought it looked fake from the first moment, but it became our inside joke as every morning I kept saying that we finally got him. While this was a hoax, it still was a fun time that got my blood pumping.
One of Ohio’s most well known Bigfoot is The Ohio Grassman who is seen mostly in Kenmore. He is said to be 7 to 9 feet tall and to have huge feet and a more human face. Many claim he is a Bigfoot, while others try to say it’s just a tall homeless human. But whatever it is, it’s been known to attack people in the wooded areas. The History Channel had a show called Monster Quest, and in 2008 they tried to see if this thing was real. By the end of the show they could not prove or disprove that the creature was real. Another famous Bigfoot around here is The White Eyed Bigfoot, who in Eaton Ohio in 1977 chased some kids around a bridge and through a open field, scaring the boys half to death. Josh Weinberg and I have traveled to this location in 2003-2005 and looked for this Bigfoot. We found no footprints or any other evidence that the creature was still around. The area was very quiet, and the site would have been a perfect place for a Bigfoot to hideout. That’s another great thing, besides Josh I have many other friends that use to love to go monster/ghost hunting with me that included my cousin Stephen Alexander, Jason Gilmore, Andrea Seay, Misty Altick, Matt Hoffman, Dave Wean and Kevin Kinsley. And while most of the time we would not find anything, it was the times we did and the fun we had that made those moments outstanding. For season two of Terrifying Tales of The Macabre Baron Von Porkchop alongside Iris and Retina (of the show Mondo Smash A-Go-Go) go on the hunt for Eaton’s White Eyed Bigfoot.
Besides tabloid magazines, Bigfoot has also made his way into film and television and here are some of the creature’s most known appearances. In 1976, a Bionic Bigfoot (played by WWF Wrestler Andre The Giant) was featured on an episode of The Six Million Dollar Man. This episode proved to be one of the most popular in the TV series run. In 1977, a kids Saturday morning program called Bigfoot and Wildboy amazed the youth for a short amount of time. 1976 showed a slow-paced semi documentary film called Legend of Bigfoot. In 1987, a family film called Harry and the Hendersons showed a gentle Bigfoot and sparked a new love for the creature, especially in kids. And most recently Jack Links Beef Jerky runs ads about messing around with the beast and pulling pranks on it. Not to mention many more films that have been made about the creature and other ones just like it.
One other quick thing I want to mention before we get into the review for IDW’s Bigfoot series is that we have talked about spottings, hoaxes, local legends, film and TV but let’s talk about toys and merchandise! Yes, if Bigfoot could make money on his likeness, it would be a very rich creature. Bigfoot has had t-shirts, stuffed toys, action figures, board games, video games, lawn statues, stamps, beer, Halloween masks and costumes, books, comics, a monster truck named after him and so much more based on him. Some of the best stuff include the Monster In My Pocket Bigfoot figure, The Bionic Bigfoot action figure, the Bigfoot rubber stamp footed action figure, the Milton Bradley Board Game and the best is Mezco’s figure that came in a line alongside The Jersey Devil, Mothman and the Lochness Monster!
So now that we have some quick facts about this famed creature, let’s take a look at a comic series that peeked my interest back in 2005 when they were released. This makes only my second time reading this mini series since it came out so I am hyped to see what I think of it this many years removed from its first run. Remember I grade these comics on a 1-4 star ratting, so with that let’s get to the reviews!
It’s 1973 at Happy Trails Camp Ground, and Billy Fuller is a 9 year old boy on his way to a fun time with his mom and dad. At night Billy is hearing weird noises that are filling the night air around their cabin. Scared by this he goes to his Dad, and the two make plans to go fishing early the next morning. As Billy goes to bed his mother and father decide to mess around, but this fun time is cut short as a Bigfoot busts in and attacks the couple. In the fight the father is able to take out on of the beast’s eyes as Billy and his pet dog enter and the dog goes on the attack. The fight leaves his father and dog dead, and his mother is dragged off by the creature. When Billy is found the next morning he is in shock, and the cops walk into a bloodbath that they claim is nothing more then a bear attack. But one cop seems to know it’s something more. The issue ends with Billy waking up years later and older having a nightmare about his mother being raped and Bigfoot being his new father!
This is a fun take on the Bigfoot legend and turns what is suppose to be a gentle beast into a blood thirsty, perverted meat eating killing machine. This first issue is a nice way to build the story and has main character Billy being 9 years old and shows the event that has tormented him throughout his life. The pace is very quick, and in fact this seems like a very quick read (only 23 pages) and goes for broke when in the first few pages Bigfoot slaughters a deer. The Bigfoot looks great and scaring up his eye helps add a more menacing look to an already large intimidating beast. This issue also keeps me wondering what is going to happen in issue 2, and makes me want to ask questions like was Billy’s mom ever found and if not is she still alive? What does the cop know that he’s not telling? And what is Billy going to do now? All these questions make for a comic that has captured my imagination. The art for Bigfoot is great but the humans are just too “modern” and strange looking for my taste. Many times they look like the have been hit by Joker’s laughing gas. The cover is a nice take on the old Patterson Bigfoot footage and that’s pretty kick ass in my book. Great first issue to kick off this limited series that makes me look forward to re-reading issue 2.
Bigfoot # 2 ***
Released in 2005 Cover Price $3.99 IDW #2 of 4
It’s now 2004, and a man is driving down the road when a 900 pound bear’s carcass is thrown at his moving car crushing him. When the cops arrive they find that the man’s body is missing. Billy is now a man who has some major issues and is still haunted by the image of Bigfoot making him want to buy a big shotgun. Meanwhile in the woods Bigfoot has attacked two young girls and a pack of boys who are riding four wheelers and goes ballistic and blood thirsty on them, leaving only one girl alive. It’s nighttime as Billy packs up what he needs and leaves his wife and son behind to head back to Happy Trails Camp Ground.
Issue two is more sizzle than steak as most of the issue is spent on Bigfoot attacks, and I am okay with this! While Billy is still the focus and it,s shown that he is a man with lots of issues, he gets the nerve to take a stand and go after the one thing that scares him. I like where this is leading as Billy is now more focused and wants to hunt his tormenter. The cop is now a sheriff and we’re shown that he is going to try and cover up the bear crash. Bigfoot in this issue is one mean S.O.B who spends most his time brutally killing innocent people. He is also shown now to be super fast as he runs and catches up to a four wheeler and gives the driver the best kill of the issue as he pounds the injured kid into the ground and splats him like a grape. The plot of this one is a nice follow up to the first issue and still in the process builds a little more to the story that we are reading to unfold. Great cheesy horror film style plot, blood and gore, decent art and a wicked cover makes issue two a fun time. Let’s see if issue 3 keeps this pace up.
Bigfoot # 3 **1/2
Released in 2005 Cover Price $3.99 IDW #3 of 4
Hicks (the cop from issues 1-2) is in the woods and finds a rotten body of a human as a female deputy comes for him to tell him they captured a man with many guns in the woods, and that man is Billy Fuller. Hicks leaves the deputy there as Bigfoot comes calling and eats her face off. In a jail cell Billy speaks to Hicks about his parents’ death and why it was covered up. Hicks opens up to Billy and tells him about when he was a young boy he also had a run in with Bigfoot that left him scared of the creature in the woods. Billy tells Hicks that they both need to face the creature and kill it once and for all. As Bigfoot attacks a family’s camper, Billy and Hicks are preparing for the ultimate hunt.
This issue slows down a bit and while still good seems to be a little more filler than the last two issues. This issue’s main focus is Hicks and his fear of the beast and his patching things up with Billy who he made to look like a liar so many years ago. In this issue Billy seems to be the button pusher who wants to get help on his hunt from a man who he feels owes him. Bigfoot has only two kills in this one, the best being when he eats the female deputy’s face! This issue keeps the story going but is a little less impactful as the past issues, making this one an average issue that seems to be more about keeping the story going to make it to the four issue mini series deadline. Not much much more to say about this issue: okay plot, good art, eye catching cover and Bigfoot going ape shit once more sums up this issue that made the series loose a little steam. Let’s see how the final issue plays out, shall we?
Bigfoot # 4 **
Released in 2005 Cover Price $3.99 IDW #4 of 4
Billy and Hicks alongside a rookie deputy go out into the woods to find the missing deputy and Bigfoot, and they don’t have to wait long as Bigfoot attacks them knocking Hicks off a cliff and sending the rookie running for his life. Billy must face the beast one on one and hits the creature with some major blows as the beast takes a shotgun blast to the back and a knife to his skull but this seems to not even slow down the Bigfoot! During the battle Billy falls down a hole and lands in a cave were he finds that the Bigfoot and a mate and kids. Billy hides in a small section of the cave as Bigfoot comes to his family’s aid and tries to reach the human to protect and kill. Billy uses his flashlight and shotgun shells to make a bomb that blows the cave up, and then bashes Bigfoot’s brains in with a rock and knocking its body off the cliff. In the end Billy finds Hicks who is still alive and suspended from trees, and the nightmare has ended for them both. While in the cave a baby Bigfoot is under some rocks as a adult Bigfoot hands remove it.
This issue seems so rushed, and while the fight between Billy and Bigfoot is cool, it just seems very thrown together and not as epic as what you would hope for and what was built up to be. The whole build up is well done, and when they finally get out to the woods two out of the three characters are not used and not even killed off, and given this Bigfoot’s track record of murder I don’t see how Billy really stood a chance. The issue is more fighting action with the art being bigger, showing, in my opinion, that they ran out of story line and used the bigger art to take up pages. I do like the fact the Bigfoot took a shotgun blast and a knife to the skull and still came after his target showing that this creature was a true fighter and protector. A neat aspect of the issue is the Bigfoot family members who are in a cave that is scattered with human bones showing that when it killed, it brought home the human meat to feed its family. But over all this is a lackluster way to end this 4 issue mini series and for me was a huge letdown. The cover art on this one is also pretty well done.
This series started out with a bang and looked as if it was going to be a fun solid Bigfoot horror book that was done in the same vein as “Night of the Demon,” an old 1980 movie where Bigfoot goes around murdering people. The character build up is well done in the first three issues and let’s you a little inside the mind of Billy and even Sheriff Hicks, two men that live in fear of the one eyed Bigfoot. One thing I did notice as well is issue 1 seemed to pull no punched with the blood and gore while the rest seemed to have blood and gore, just not so in your face with it. The storyline is fun but a little weak for four issues; this could have been easily wrapped up in 2 or 3 at the most, in my opinion showing that they made this last 4 for the sake of a contract or money. The art is hit and miss with me. Bigfoot looks great, but the people look like big mouth freaks who have been zapped with Joker’s laughing gas! I am sure that one of the main reasons I have a soft spot for this comic series is the fact I am a Bigfoot fan, but it’s one I will sum up like this: it starts with a bang and goes down with a mere yell.
Oh, I also wanted to share with you this picture of me with some friends at a Halloween party, and yes, I am the one dressed as Bigfoot! These guys are also my co-workers and are all around kick ass people. I also dressed up as Bigfoot for an episode of Terrifying Tales of the Macabre, and both times dressing up as the creature I had a blast!
Well let’s take a look at 2001’s One Second Too Late and its 2007 sequel Two Seconds Too Late more films put out/made for Independent B Movie! As I have stated, Josh Weinberg was in a class with my brother Bryan taught by Andy Copp and one of the classes project was to make a short film. While my brother made the trippy stop motion film “Nightmare,” Josh Weinberg set out to make a slasher film that followed a crazed man who escapes from an asylum and kills as a detective tracks him. He set out to make that film but really made a film about a young man who’s dad is a drunk and beats and shoves him down stairs, and the aftermath of this warps the direction of the film. Weinberg armed with a VHS camera and tripod came over for his first day of the film shoot and cast himself as the troubled young man also named Josh and cast me as his best friend. We shot this at 10 Wilmington Place, a retirement home as we chatted in the car about him needing to move out of his father’s house, and Josh’s worries of doing so. The first day of filming was a breeze and took no time to get right. The second day of filming was more of a pain as my brother and I got into a huge argument before Weinberg came over, making me not help on most of the shoot and sit in my room playing Baseball Stars on the NES. My brother was casted as the Drunken Father, and the tripod was used as the cameraman as Josh and Bryan acted out this emotional look at child abuse that lead to Josh being pushed down stairs or better yet running down stairs breaking my parents banister and having one of the worst “stunts” in our company’s history. The fall leads the Josh character into a nightmare world of murder and suicide that ends with a shockingly. From there Josh went home and shot some scenes of his own that involved suicide. The film’s camera was off center in shots making crotches and stuff the center of shots, but some how this worked! Weinberg during editing left the chroma key effect on given the finished project a dirty yet some how appropriate look. The film played in Copp’s class and a film class Josh was also taking and earned him a good grade in both classes. This film and Werewolf of Ohio were written about in the Dayton Impact Weekly. While the rest of Independent B Movie snubbed the film, I for one think Weinberg did a great job. Sadly this is the least selling movie on VHS and DVD.
A few years later Weinberg started a sequel to his film that had a group of kids being haunted by the Ghost of Josh, but after only two days of filming the film was canceled. But in 2004, Weinberg started it up again, and this time it followed his best friend (once more played by me) and his girlfriend (played by my then girlfriend Misty Altick) trying to hunt down and find Josh who has been missing, while the drunken father tried to throw them off the track. The film’s shooting was plagued with setbacks and took years to get finished, and after it wrapped, Andy Copp edited and did the music score for the film that was released quietly on DVD with the original. While these films might not be huge sellers, they still have a place in the history of Independent B Movie and mark the first two films Josh Weinberg directed.
This is the most violent comic series we have looked at so far and won’t be the last. One of the things that I loved in my youth and to this day is horror films and with more horror film-inspired comics out there then I can shake a stick at, look for every once in a while a update about them. So be prepared for Halloween, Night Breed, Werewolf, A Nightmare on Elm Street and so many more! We also took a quick look at Josh Weinberg’s shot on video classic. And with that let’s get back to basics and take a look at another great series from Marvel Comics based on a cartoon and toy line on the first mutated super hero from New Jersey and a rag tag team of freaks. This means I could only be talking about The Toxic Crusaders! Thanks to Mavericks Cards and Comics for this review who stocked this title in 2005 and put every issue into my pull file. See you next blog entry for a toxic good time.