Sunday, June 29, 2014

Goodwill Geek Mailbag: A Package From Erik Johnson, Illustrator!

Blogging, for me, has had the unexpected side-effect of letting me meet a large and much-varied group of individuals whom I would certainly not have met otherwise. Of that large and much-varied group is an individual named Erik Johnson, Illustrator. He has a blog... but its not a "Hey! Look what I bought over the weekend!" type of a blog, it's a "Hey! Look what I made myself! And... here, let's take a detailed look at the process I went through to make it!" sort of blog, which I find completely fascinating. Take a look at some of his artwork (you should be able to click on these to go back to Erik's blog and find some relevant info on the creation of each piece):

"Party of Two"
This piece is called "Party of Two" and the coolest thing (for me) about this piece, beyond what you see above, was watching as Erik went through the creative process on his blog, developing it from rough sketches to the final result. 

"A Gift, From My Home to Yours"
This was Erik's 2013 Christmas card, and I was lucky enough to receive one of these myself! What was interesting after the fact was reading Erik's notes on where the idea came from, but also looking at the step-by-step process of how this card was made.
"Action Figures"
And finally, let's focus on the image in the top left corner of this image, which is a promotional image for Erik to advertise his services. The piece in the corner was done specifically for Cool & Collected magazine, and it was cool to pick up that issue and see Erik's work inside. 

I am in awe of Erik's versatility and talent, and he never fails to impress when he presents his work, whether it's a finished product he's meticulously polished, convention sketches, or just practice doodles from a brainstorming session. I've also come to count Erik among my online friends. He chimes in with encouragement when he looks over my blog, and we've chatted a bit on facebook, etc. In the process, we decided to send each other some packages of goodies... and Erik's was an amazing little doozy of a package, filled with some true nostalgia. 

Recently, I've made a few Goodwill finds from my childhood, and one in particular was a book from a library I frequented as a child myself, and that I believe I actually checked out and read. Well. The exact same feeling of familiarity swept over me as I opened the box that came in the mail from Erik, and I pulled out this stack of Crestwood House Monster books. Except, obviously these books hadn't come from the Bar Harbor, ME library. Still there was a set of books IDENTICAL to these there, and when I was a lad I pored over them as if they were religious texts in a dead language needing to be translated. As you can see in the image above, these have also come from a library, and are well worn and well-read. AS THEY SHOULD BE!

The set covers lots of different monsters, and there are actually quite a few more in the series that I will be keeping an eye peeled for as I hunt in the future. The first one here is "Dracula". I loved Bela Lugosi's Dracula. It was one of the first Universal Monster movies I ever saw (I think the Creature was #1, but I was very young so it sort of doesn't count...) and Lugosi's coy and macabre grin and demeanor really floored me, even as a youngster. 

My dearest obsession as a lad was werewolves. The wolfman was probably the book I remember most from this entire series. The idea of becoming a half man half wolf was such a cool concept to me. 

I wasn't much of a King Kong fan until I was much older, which is a shame. You would think that this book would have cured me of that at a much younger age!

The Mad Scientists tome is filled with all of the usual suspects, from Fu Manchu on the cover there, to Dr. Jekyl. 

And finally, Godzilla! With all the Godzilla hype out and about right now, this book couldn't have fallen into my lap at a more opportune moment. These books are a real blast from the past, and it was incredible of Erik to pass them along to me. But wait! There's more. He also sent me these:

A 1997 Creature from the Black Lagoon toy from Burger King! BK did a great promotion for Universal back in '97 that included a bunch of monster kid's meal toys. The creature here now brings my total up to 2! 

Here he is chilling out with my BK Wolfman. They look right at home in from of those Crestwood House books... and this:

A VHS copy of one of my absolute favorite horror movie remakes from the 80's, the BLOB!!! I love this remake for the practical effects used throughout. Erik didn't know at the time that I was GONZO for this film, he just sent it because he thought I'd like it! In fact, he heard me talking on the Geek Fallout podcast about my love for the Blob remake AFTER he sent out this package! While I am not a VHS collector in any way shape or form, I treasure this thing, and have it placed reverently next to the VHS of the Superman movie that the Trash Man sent me on my 80's nostalgia shelf. Having 1 VHS tape from 2 of my best internet buddies is actually a kind of neat tribute to them, I think. The "Booga!!! Booga!!! Prepare for a scare!!" artwork is his own piece, and it was included in the VHS box as an extra spooky treat! Can you tell Erik knows I like Halloween and horror?

And speaking of Geek Fallout, Erik has also recently become a contributor to the Geek Fallout podcast, joining in on the Hanna Barbera episode (Ep. #81). I haven't gotten to actually talk to him on the podcast personally yet... but as long as he continues to contribute, our paths will cross eventually.

I want to thank Erik wholeheartedly for this awesome box of goodies. I hope he had as much fun putting this stuff together for me as I did putting together a package for him! He's a great artist and an even better person to talk to, bounce ideas off, and pal around with online. Thanks Erik!

Well. That's all I got for tonight kiddos! I'll be back really soon with ALL KINDS of awesome Goodwill Goodies (I have a queue of something like 11 posts saved in draft form, full of photos just waiting for me to write about them, so keep your eyes peeled!) so until then, Happy Hunting!   


  1. Holy crap! I used to sign those books out of the library all the time!

    1. Right? I was immediately returned to 11 years old when I hauled that fat stack of books out!

  2. Thanks Derek, I'm pleased as punch to hear that you liked them. These were from a library yes, Plymouth Park Elementary School closed its doors about five years ago and there was a public sale of anything that wasn't nailed down. I got these plus a box full of other beautifully illustrated children's books for about a dollar.

    I didn't grow up with these books (my go to book for monster pictures was Hollywood Horror: Gothic to Cosmic) but I learned about the Crestwood series just a day before sale from this video:

    I'd been keeping these around for pride of ownership, but my place is kind of small, so I figured they'd do well in the hands of a veteran monster fan. Imagine my surprise when I learned you were a fan of the 80s Blob! Wow.

    Miss M had sent me a Gillman figure along with the BK Dracula and Frankenstein in a care package, but I already had a BK Creature, so I sent my original Creature to you and it seems he has good company now too! I made sure put the Scooby figure you sent me in his rightful place besides these monsters. Which reminds me, we need to get Chris to do a Geek Fallout episode all about Scooby-Doo because I think you and I could talk about "Mystery Inc" for hours!

    Thanks for the free publicity and especially the comments. You and several other people have remarked how much they love seeing the process and its been of great benefit to work to keep track of how I do things.

  3. They would be so great for Monster Cafe Saltillo.

  4. Erik is so talented and such a nice guy! I have been enjoying the process he goes through with his work and am always looking forward to what he comes up with next. Really great stuff and I am hoping we all get a chance to be on the podcast soon! Hope you guys are doing well.

    1. You're all flatterers! Every last one of you! Thanks guys. But really no one is looking forward to whats next than me. haha.

      It was great to chat with fellow blogger Brain The Trash Man on the podcast. Now that I've had two episodes experience, plus the lady at Diary Queen last night asking me if I'd ever been on NPR, I'd love to be on the show again to have the chance to talk with you and Derek.

  5. Derek,
    This was an awesome gift dude. I too have the BK Wolfman and really dig those books dude. Treasure them Sir!

  6. I would LOVE to get a set of those books. I remember them from when I was a kid. They are either in really bad condition or in alright condition for insane amounts of money. James Rolfe did a great little short video about the Crestwood books that is worth checking out.

  7. Erik is a fine artist and a caring soul! I wish I was half as good at drawing.

    It's so cool to hear everyone's lovely voices over the airwaves! I can now say that I have several friends in the radio biz. Just you wait, you'll all be on TV or something someday. :)

  8. This is so cool :) I just love seeing how all of my favorite bloggers are morphing together like Voltron.


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