Thursday, May 10, 2018

Max and Mikey: Art Workshops for Guys into Guys

I have some awesome news for GBT2Q guys, and other guys who are into guys! Starting May 22nd I will be doing a series of creative art workshops for Max Ottawa which will be presented until July 31st. Check out the schedule below and contact Max Ottawa to register. Workshops are free for those living in the Ottawa area. So if you're a guy who is into guys and want to broaden your social circle while having some creative fun, please join us. I'm so excited about doing this!!! Hope to see you there!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Reminiscing about Mr. Dressup and his puppet pals!

Back in 2001 the Canadian Museum of History, which is located in Gatineau, Quebec, just across the river from Ottawa, had an exhibit about the history of children's television as produced by the CBC. It was called Show and Tell: Growing Up Canadian and featured many of the actual puppets that appeared on kids TV shows from the 1950's through to the 1990's. Alas Casey and Finnegan, the puppets from Mr. Dressup, were not among those in the exhibit. In their place were cut-out photograph stand-ins. I was a bit disappointed about that but it didn't last long, as the exhibit had the next best thing... Casey and Finnegan's treehouse set that was used on the program! Awesomeness!!! As you can see I'm standing next to it, above, with a big smile on my face. I'm definitely in "my happy place" in this picture!

Many of my favourite puppet characters were featured in this same exhibit, so I was quite happy to see them all too, but seeing the treehouse was definitely one of the main highlights!

Being a puppeteer, I have always collected items that have to do with puppetry, such as newspaper articles, records, and other collectables. Here are all of the nifty items that I have relating to Mr. Dressup....

Above is likely the first record albums to be released based on the Mr. Dressup TV series. There are four of them listed on Wikipedia, in which case I'm just missing one. The record album shown above doesn't have a date on it anywhere, though based on the style of the album cover and the photo of Mr. Dressup it was likely released in the late 1960's or sometime during the 1970's.

This record is titled Mr. Dressup: Happy Birthday Alligator Al. Based on the copyright date it was released in 1976.
This record is from 1982. My copy is still in the original unopened wrapper! It's interesting and somewhat bizarre that none of these records state that they were produced or co-produced by the CBC. I have a Canadian Sesame Street record album from 1981 that was co-produced by the CBC and it has the CBC logo on the back, whereas none of these records have the CBC logo.

In the late 1980's puppeteer Judith Lawrence who performed Casey and Finnegan retired. The show continued with new puppet characters that had been slowly phased in prior to her retirement so that viewers wouldn't be shocked at the sudden departure of the original puppets. She currently resides in Vancouver with her famous puppet pals.

The coolest thing by far that I have in regards to Mr. Dressup is this autograph, which has quite an interesting backstory! It's signed "To Mike" but I regretfully never had the opportunity to meet Mr. Dressup. This Mike is a good friend of mine who lives in Toronto. Back in 1994 Mike had the remarkable experience of being in a choir that sang on stage at Parliament Hill in Ottawa during Canada Day celebrations. This was the year that Ernie Coombs, who played Mr. Dressup, became a Canadian citizen during a ceremony on that very same stage.

At some point backstage Mike was able to meet Mr. Coombs who signed the back of his access pass, as shown above. Five years later in 1999 Mike and I met and became friends during the production of Sock N' Buskin Theatre's Little Shop of Horrors. Long after the production wrapped and we had become better friends, Mike later told me this story about the time he had met Mr. Dressup! My friend Mike then gave this autograph to me, knowing how much I adore puppetry and the Mr. Dressup TV show. To this day I'm still in awe of what a kind and remarkable gesturer that was. It meant a lot to me! We both thought it was ironic that the autograph is signed "To Mike" as though it was meant to find it's way to me. So not only is this item awesome because it's Mr. Dressup's autograph, it's also a meaningful symbol of my friendship with Mike! :)

In the late 1990's during his retirement Ernie Coombs toured universities with a stage show titled Tales from the Tickle Trunk. At the time my brother Steven was a professor at Western University, one of the locations on the tour. Above is the poster that was used to promote this event. My brother was thoughtful enough to save one for me. I put it up in my puppet workshop where it's been ever since!

Above left is the flyer for the 2001 exhibit at the Canadian Museum of History in Quebec where the photo at the top of this page was taken. (The museum changed it's name from "Civilization" to "History" around 2010.) Due to a stroke at the age of 73, Ernie Coombs passed away in September of that year shortly before the exhibit opened in December. Prior to this, the exhibit had been mounted in Toronto at the CBC museum. On the right is a promotional card from the CBC Museum featuring Casey. In addition to promoting the exhibit, instructions on the card explain how to cut out the picture of Casey and attach it to a rod to make a stick puppet!

This is an issue of Performing Arts & Entertainment in Canada magazine from 2001. It has a very detailed and well written article about Ernie Coombs.

Here is a look inside the magazine at the first two pages of the four page article. I love this early photo of Mr. Dressup and his puppet pals, just as I remember them!

Here is a CBC home video VHS set from 2002. The CBC logo appears on the bottom of the box. Below are the covers for each of the videos in the set.

Here is a 2 & 1/4 inch pin back button that I found at a nostalgia show in 2018. There's no copyright info on it so I suspect that it's a home-made bootleg item. There's also no date on the button but the photo of Mr. Dressup is from the 1990's, therefore it would have been made at some point between 1990 and 2018.

This is a softcover book from 2004 produced by Kids CBC (ISBN 0-660-19240-3). Two more books are below: Casey's First Day, ( ISBN 0-660-19241-1) and Mr. Dressup's Castle (0-660-19242-X). The illustrations for the "Castle" book are quite strange. Casey is drawn as a freakish looking human boy with a pointy head (though the puppet does not have a pointy head). The last book in this series, which I don't have, is Casey and the Beanstalk.
Other collectables that I'm aware of include a fourth record titled Mr. Dressup and Friends, and some books:

Mr. Dressup's Things to Make and Do
Mr. Dressup's 50 More Things to Make and Do
The Missing Button Adventure
Casey Visit's the Doctor

While compiling this post and fact checking the info, I came across an online article by CP24 which states "At the 1992 Gemini Awards, comic Mike Myers of Saturday Night Live and Austin Powers listed Mr. Dressup as one of the top five things he loves about Canada." Hear, hear to that Mr. Myers!

It's quite fitting that (on separate occasions) both Ernie Coombs and Judith Lawrence have received the Order of Canada... our country's highest honour.

Text and Photos copyright Mikey Artelle

Monday, December 11, 2017

Minor Technical Difficulties!!!

Hey there everyone! Yesterday while sorting my Google file I had an "Oops!" moment and deleted the entire photo album for this blog. My bad! I'm presently in the process of replacing every image on every page and post of this blog, therefore many of the images are still missing... and now I have something to do over the Christmas holidays.... and beyond! :) Stay tuned, I'll have this blog back up and running very soon!

Update! Feb 8, 2018: The site is now 90% back to normal! Still more to do however, so I'll keep updating this post as I make progress!


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Pythor Comics Superheroes Storybook Series Coming Soon!

I'm very excited and proud to announce that my goal of self publishing a series of Pythor Comics storybooks is soon to become a reality! Over the last few months I've made considerable progress with my efforts to learn Photoshop and have now completed and published a limited number of my first few books. Now that I have the creation and layout process sorted out I can go at it and create all the books that I wish! And, now that the first couple of books are ready to print, the next step is to get a larger quantity of the books printed and begin my search for a distributor. This will take a bit of time and effort! So stay tuned, as 2018 will definitely be the year that Pythor Comics storybooks arrive! I'll continue to post updates here as events develop! -Mikey

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Read the Pythor Comics mini comic books for free online!

Hey there superhero fans! If you've been following my blog, you're likely aware that I've been learning how to use Photoshop in order to colour in my illustrations, with the ultimate goal of publishing a full colour, full length comic book. Well, I'm happy to report that I've made significant progress thanks to my friend Petr Maur who, in addition to his other creative talents, is a professional graphic artist! As such, I've finally coloured all six covers of my mini comic books which I first began posting online in B&W in 2014. I have yet to colour the comics themselves, but I'm getting there! Above is an awesome collage of all the covers, which I'm so glad to see in colour at last!!!! As always, I invite you to read these mini comics for free on this blog. Enjoy! - Mikey

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Pythor Comics Superhero Puppets!!!

Here I am in March 2016 with a selection of my hand-made Pythor Comics superhero puppets!!!

This is how I have my puppets on display in my workshop! The four original larger sized puppets (which are about 20 inches tall) are seen on top of the shelf on the left of the photo: Pythor, Perseus, Canadian Crusader and Griffon Shadow. These all appeared in my show Heroes Past and Present which premiered in 2006 at the Puppets Up Festival.

All of the smaller sized puppets (about 12 inches tall) were made as toy puppet prototypes which I would love to someday have manufactured. It takes a bit of cash for that however, so until then I'll have to share them with others this way on my blog! I've designed and made a series of at least 25 of these toy puppets, along with a horse for Melvin Maples (Canadian Crusader's alter ego) from my Canadian Heroes series and Pegasus for the Greek Myth series. There are others "in progress" too, but I thought I should put the brakes on! I'm running out of room!!! :) Ah, but too many puppets is a good problem!

Puppets © Mikey Artelle, 2000, 2017

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Pythor Comics Superhero Buttons!!!

I made these buttons a few months ago for Ottawa Comiccon.
They are the first buttons featuring my superhero characters!!!