PCR past banners
Now in our sixth calendar year
PCR #252  (Vol. 6, No. 3)  This edition is for the week of January 17--23, 2005.

"Hotel Rwanda"
 by Mike Smith
Class is In! "Student of the Unusual" - An Interview with Student Body President Terry Cronin!
 by Andy Lalino
Martin Luther King Day
 by Clayton Smith
The Not-So Astonishing X-Men....Punk Update....Movie Updates....Couple of Notes
 by Brandon Jones
King Kong 2005....Jim Warren On The Move....Football Prognosticator....Up This Week?
 by Matt Drinnenberg
Snow....Happy Birthday....Movie Notes....Oscar Time....Jaws: The Story, Part 2
 by Mike Smith
Archives of Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Archives 2005
Archives 2004
Archives 2003
Archives 2002
Archives 2001
Archives 2000
Email PCR
Andy Lalino
Oddservations by Andy Lalino

Oddservations Spotlight Class is In! "Student of the Unusual"

An Interview with Student Body President Terry Cronin!

A bright spot in the independent comic publishing world hails from Melbourne, Florida, right here in our own state! Terry Cronin! and 3 Boys Productions celebrates the release of issue #3 of the popular horror anthology comic book "Students of the Unusual". I own and have read the first two editions, and I can tell you that the SOTU series is first-class all the way. In terms of story, artwork, and printing, "Students..." succeeds stunningly. Mastermind Terry Cronin! (of 3 Boys Productions) has assembled a group of artists and writers that truly bring their stories to life, colorfully, horrifically, and sometimes humorously!

Terry Cronin!
Issues 1-2 feature gripping horror by some of the best comic artists around - each with unique styles. The first features stories written exclusively by Terry; some featuring his interest in the paranormal and mysterious (such as Florida's legendary "Skunk Ape", for example); others, like "Recalcitrant Jones and the Deadbeats" (a continuing serial), are morbidly whimsical.

Issue #2 introduces a new author: Pat Martin from 3 Boys, penning "Time of Sail", a "round robin" writing approach where different select authors contribute to the continuing story line. Martin also contributed to Terry's "Stinky", a companion piece to "Under the Bridge" from issue #1.

3 Boys sought out some of the best comic artists on the scene today: Julia Lichty ("Stubborn", "Time of Sail"), Poly Bernatene ("Moko Mokai" - one of my favorites), Jorge Calamato & Gary Scott Beatty ("Under the Bridge" & "Stinky"), Ann Danielson ("Utter Chaos"), and Steve Mack ("Recalcitrant Jones and the Deadbeats"), Michael A. Tyson ("Choose Your Friends Well"), Sarah-Lynn Brown ("Rumbles"), and Dove McHargue ("Las Vampiratas"). Each artist brings their own unique style to the table, arresting the reader with dazzling variations of color and technique. In his intro featured in the first issue, Terry hoped experiencing the anthology stories in "Students..." would be like watching a series of movies - it truly is!

Terry and 3 Boys Productions are also famous for hosting one of the very best film festivals in the U.S. - M.I.F.F., the Melbourne Independent Filmmakers Festival. The big news of 2005 is that Terry is heading up the film festival at the hugely popular MegaCon convention in Orlando in February. As if they didn't have enough on their plate, 3 Boys are busy independent filmmakers. Pat Martin's "Milk Maids" recently screened at the Screamfest 2004 horror convention in Plantation, Florida. Other cinematic projects include: Cronin!/Martin's "Gasman" & "Crisp", Cronin!'s "Under the Bridge", and Martin's "The Ride". You'll note that some of Cronin's short film concepts eventually were adapted to comic book form in "Students...".

For all the info you could want on "Students of the Unusual" and 3 Boys Productions, check out the official websites:
Students of the Unusual: http://studentsoftheunusual.com/
3 Boys Productions: http://www.3boysproductions.com/home.htm

The following is an exclusive interview with Terry Cronin! Creator, writer, and evil genius behind "Students of the Unusual" and many other creative ventures. Plus, he's one of the nicest people I've ever met!

Oddservations: How did the concept for the "Students of the Unusual" comic book come about?

Terry Cronin: Andy you, in fact, are nice and when I say nice I mean really nice. Now to get beyond these niceties, Students of the Unusual really wasn't planned it happened because me and my friends at 3 Boys Productions love independent film.As you mentioned every year we run the Melbourne Independent Filmmakers Festival and all the money we raise from this event goes to charity. I met a man named Michael Barone who runs Graph-X printing in Fellsmere and he volunteered to print the program for the MIFF. (Super nice guy, too) Anyway his operation does glorious color printing and I asked him if he ever printed comics and he said "No" but that he would love to. So that's how the idea got started. As you know from your film work, good preparation for a film shoot includes a storyboard which is basically a crude comic story of the film. We decided to take some of those wild film ideas and bring them out in a full color comic form.

Odd: Where do you get the inspirations for your stories? They're quite varied, and dare I say - unusual!

TC: Well that is a great question and the answer is sort of weird-- the stories sort of write themselves. I seem to be a conduit for some strange hypnotic energy which keeps me up late at night in a trance-like state endlessly typing away at my computer. Interestingly, although I am not privy to the particulars, I know that each of the separate stories will build in relation to the others until the final issue.

Odd: You've assembled a collection of fantastic artists. How do you go about finding them?

TC: I met most of the artists via the internet and e-mail. The two exceptions are Ann Danielson who I know personally and I was already impressed by her award-winning work in Tampa, Florida. I met the great Dove McHargue at Megacon and we linked up because of our mutual love of pirates. He has a fantastic pirate book called "Canon" that IO would recommend to anyone. J Chris Campbell dropped by our booth at Heroes Con in Charlotte and as you will see in issue # 3, his "Recalcitrant Jones and the Dead Beats" really rocks.

Odd: Where can fans get copies of "Students of the Unusual"?

TC: We are distributed by Diamond and should be available in all your local comic shops.

Here are the Diamond order numbers---

Or you can order them by checking the website www.studentsoftheunusual.com

Odd: Am I correct in assuming you're a big fan of horror anthologies?

TC: Oh yes. I grew up on the "House of Mystery" and the "House of Secrets" by DC, Warren's "Creepy", "Vampirella", & "Eerie" and later I discovered the vintage EC comics ie "Haunt of Fear", "Vault of Horror", "Crypt of Terror". I'm a fan of horror films and modern adventure.

Odd: "Students..." has received some great reviews. Can you tell us about them?

TC: Thecomicfanatic.com gave us a glowing review when our first issue came out and then went on to rank us in the top twenty of horror comics this Halloween which was a real scream. Other superlatives have come from Comixview.com and the Comics Buyer's Guide.

Odd: Are there any memorable stories you can relay when putting together the first issue? What was releasing the first issue like?

TC: Well it was a frightening endeavor and we decided to premiere the first issue at last year's Megacon. We had model/writer/filmmaker Katharine Leis as a guest who definitely attracted many interested potential readers to our booth. Everyone was wearing "Students of the Unusual" t-shirts and there was a great pic with Brad Dourif from the "Lord of the Rings". I have to say that the comic community was really supportive of our first attempt and that was fantastic.

Odd: On the official SOTU website, readers have the option of doing "homework assignments". Can you tell us more about this fun concept?

TC: One of the ideas for the "Students of the Unusual" is to educate our readers about arcane and forgotten lore- so, with each issue, we put up a little lesson on the website. There is a test and that can be taken at the website too and then, if the student passes, a diploma will be emailed to the proud recipient who will then be added to our honor roll.

Odd: I've seen you at Screamfest 2004 promoting issue #2, and you're going to be at MegaCon in late February of 2005, presumably promoting issue #3. Do you enjoy attending conventions, and what other ways do you market the "Students..." comics?

TC: We really enjoy the conventions because basically we are fans of the genre. We love comics and we like to see what else is out there. Conventions have become just a fabulous nexus of everything cool in entertainment like films, comics, horror, Sci-fi, artists, models, actors, celebrities, & music. It's like going to the mall but everything for sale is really cool and the sites are much more interesting..

Odd: Are there any other conventions you plan on attending where comic fans can pick up copies?

TC: We have been invited to attend FX: the Florida Extravanganza Jan 28th-30th in Orlando and we are planning to go to San Diego Comicon and Atlanta's Dragon Con this year.

Odd: The stories "Stubborn" (issue #1) and "Time of Sail" (issue #2) feature "round robin" storytelling: each issue features a different author who contributes a variation on the basic story line. What has that experience been like?

TC: It is really cool. It began as a story of a windsurfer on an alien planet and has become a interesting study of the human subconscious and magic. The story has gone in directions that I could never imagine. Each writer is compelled to push the story to a higher level. This story is really held together by the phenomenal artwork of Julia Lichty, aka, ghostfire, and everyone should check out her website at http://www.ghostfire.net/

Odd: The "Students..." artwork is incredible across the board. Do the artists work under a deadline? In what time frame do they deliver the artwork?

TC: "Students of the Unusual" is bi-monthly so at times there is a bit of a crunch.

Odd: Issue #2 gave us previews of the cover art for issues 3 & 4. Is issue #4 in the can, and do you ordinarily work that far ahead of schedule?

TC: Most of the stories are plotted and some of the artwork is complete. We are very thankful to our artists for their skill and timeliness.

Odd: Can you give a preview of what we can expect in issue #3?

TC: Students of the Unusual" #3 (ISBN # 0-9749266-2-0) features work by Gary Scott Beatty, Jorge Calamato, J Chris Campbell, Terry Cronin!, Wes Danielson, Julia Lichty aka ghostfire, Dove McHargue, and wild cover art by Andrew Skwish and Arnold Arre Wes Danielson and Julia Lichty continue the round-robin story of the windsurfer in "Guidance Sought". The homeless but remarkable Uncle Pat returns to tell three children the history of a dearly-missed dragon statue on Merritt Island, Florida.. With stunning art by San Franciscan Jorge Calamato and colors by Michigoan Gary Scott Beatty, the story of the dragon "Annie" resonates with the nostalgia of forgotten history. J. Chris Campbell's artistry shines in the latest Recalcitrant Jones & the Dead Beats adventure. This time, the touch of Ms Joplin reanimates the cadavers at the city morgue and the dead aren't grateful. Dove McHargue continues to expertly illustrate the adventures of Las Vampiratas on the high seas. Treasure, pirates, and vampires! Oh and love, too. Julia Lichty aka ghostfire provides the fabulous artwork for "The Flame of Faith", a story of a mysterious tattoo and it's unforeseen power.

Odd: Are any new writers/artists joining the class in issue #3?

TC: J. Chris Campbell takes over the art for Recalcitrant Jones & the Dead Beats. His fantastic art is featured in Adhouse Books' anthology "Project: Superior". Check it out. He brings a very colorful palate and playful style just right for these adventures.

Odd: What are your hopes for "Students..." in the future? Are you looking to expand to new titles and concepts?

TC: Wow, I don't want to count my chickens and eat them too ---but basically the plan is to go twelve issues and then the story is complete. We would hopefully continue to do specials after that.

Odd: You've likened the stories in "Students of the Unusual" to horror cinema. Was "Students..." more so inspired by horror films, traditional horror comics, or both?

TC: Because of the MIFF, we see a lot of great horror films-- including your fantastic horror film "Filthy". Many of these films tell fantastic stories in a very short time. It was our hope to emulate that type of storytelling with an economy of pages.

Odd: Did you grow up reading horror comics/magazines that feature different stories, such as Marvel's "Weird Wonder Tales"/"Chamber of Darkness" and Warren Publishing's "Creepy"/"Eerie"?

TC: You certainly have me pegged.

Odd: What are some of your favorite horror movie anthologies?

TC: Twilight Zone, Tales from the Crypt, Creepshow, Trilogy of Terror, The Night Stalker.

Odd: Yourself and 3 Boys Productions are also busy independent filmmakers. Can you tell us about your current projects?

TC: Pat recently completed Milkmaids which should show at Megacon. We have also completed a feature length script called "The Legend of the Florida Skunk Ape" which come to think of it would make a great comic book!

Odd: Can you give us a preview of M.I.F.F. 2005?

TC: We are moving the dates to November 10-12th. we decided September was too tough with that being the peak of hurricane season. Thank you Andy for your continued support!

Odd: Thank you, Terry, for sharing "Students of the Unusual" with our readers. Please support independent comics by purchasing copies of "Students of the Unusual" on the official Students of the Unusual website, your local comic book shop, or at a convention 3 Boys Productions is attending.

"Oddservations" is ©2005 by Andy Lalino.  The Oddservations banner is a creation of Andy Lalino. All other graphics are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.