Saturday, December 14, 2013

Give the Gift of Delight with December’s Peculiar People of the Month: The Sculptors of Creatures of Delight!

David Rondinelli

(Left: Stewart Buffaloe/ Right: Tom Kopian)
Creatures of Delight started from the creative mind of Tom "T. Oliver" Kopian who, as a boy, had a thing for monsters and sought to make them come to life by turning his childhood home into a playground of happy Halloween horrors. Soon after college, he met his partner Stewart Buffaloe who shared in the vision of a delightful world populated with wacky dragons, monsters and crazy broads. For over a decade they have gone on to create what is known as Rubber Plush, which is a mixture of paper towel fiber and latex. The winning formula of creative designs and fun characters earned them displays in FAO Schwartz and jobs with theme parks at Disney and Universal studios. Originally based in Tampa, Florida, Kopain and Buffaloe have moved their business to New York where they live in their Long Island home that they share with six special needs cats, one of which has only one eye. In a town like New York, one thing is for certain, Creatures of Delight is sure to fit right in. Read more about the business of making monsters with December’s Peculiar People of the Month – T.Oliver and Stewart Buffaloe the creators of Creatures of Delight.

This Peculiar Life NYC:   Tell readers what you do and what you are known for?

Creatures of Delight: Creatures of Delight is a three dimensional art studio which specializes in wacky creatures of all sizes and shapes which they sell mostly through a collection of galleries and shops across the country. Our creatures are mostly made from a latex and fiber process which Tom patented when he was younger. It's a lot like paper mache’ but with Bounty paper towels and liquid latex. The material is then used to create soft sculpture, puppets, dolls, and a line of backpacks and bags which are unlike anything on the market.

Hugo in Red Backpack.
T.P.L. NYC: How did you come up with the concepts for Creatures of Delight?
C.O.D.: Creatures started out Tom's love for Halloween and the Rankin Bass holiday specials and shows like H.R. Pufnstuf. As a teen, Tom worked in his parent’s basement creating monsters, masks, and make-up in hopes of a career in special effects.

T.P.L. NYC: Once you did find the concepts, what made you feel that it could become a business?

C.O.D.: During the eighties Tom would decorate his parent’s Long Island house with elaborate displays for Halloween which attracted a great deal of media attention. Thousands of people would come by on Halloween - one of which happened to be a man who owned a wholesale gift company. He fell in love with the look of the creatures, which were much rougher looking and more monstery. He told Tom he saw a market for the designs if the monsters could be made soft and squishy. At the time, they had been a mash up of wire, wood, plaster and latex. Tom took on the challenge and the very first creature- J. Amberson Troll - was born. Right out of the gate, FAO Schwarz took a sample order and liked them so much they featured them in their front window for Christmas that year! Networking at Toy Fair led to working with theme parks such as Disney and Universal where custom made lines of specialty merchandise followed.

 T.P.L. NYC: What materials do you use to make the characters?

C.O.D.: The materials and process for the creatures have stayed pretty much the same over the years. We use a medical grade natural base latex and pater towel fiber. We work with molds and forms to make each piece. The process is simple and requires no special machinery.

T.P.L. NYC: What is the process to making one of these? Tell us how you do it from concept to finished product?

C.O.D.: In 2001 Stewart began working with Tom as a studio manager. Over the years he has become invaluable- teaching himself to create all of our two dimensional layouts as well as web design and sewing so that we can do all of our work in house. While Tom comes up with most of the character design Stewart is also responsible for most of the color choices and the final look of each character.

Nonesuch Dragon 2 (early model)

T.P.L. NYC: How do you come up with the fun names for the different characters?

C.O.D.: Naming the characters is one of the most fun and challenging parts of the process. As a character comes together, many times they just seem to tell you their name.  Groups like the large monsters usually get names that sound good together- like "Scamp," “Scourge," "Squalor," "Scalawag," and "Skirmish." Sometimes, however, a really fun character defies you to come up with a cool name- it took us years to finally have a name for our first Flamingo - "Fleetwood"- he was always just "Flamingo."

T.P.L. NYC: Will there be any new characters or concepts that you will be creating or debuting?

C.O.D.: We love coming up with new characters. Our newest line "Unusual Suspects" was created for the very reason. The smaller scale of the pieces allows us to sculpt and mold characters quicker and more cheaply than the larger pieces. This allows us to try lots of new ideas and make new characters as in the same way as a two dimensional artist would do a sketch. If the piece works and becomes popular we can refine it and make more; if it isn't a hit it becomes a more collectible piece because there will only be a few made.

Squalor Backpack reaches out for a hug
T.P.L. NYC: Is there a character that you like the most?

C.O.D.: Picking a favorite is really tough. It’s like picking a favorite child. I've carried a "Happy Creature" backpack forever so that would probably be one of them. The only creature that I have as a decoration in my house is a large purple troll so that might be another.  Stewart likes the Halloween ladies and has a set of them in his room so that might be his favorite.

T.P.L. NYC: Which one do you find to be the most challenging to make?

C.O.D.: The most challenging pieces we make on a regular basis are the ones with the most hand painting - like "Lionel Fishie". Custom work can be challenging - especially if we have to capture the essence of a particular subject while retaining our unique look. We made a number  of masks of Chris Sullivan (founder of Outback Steakhouse) for a surprise party his wife was throwing for him. He doesn't have any discernible features so it was really hard to make it look like him but funny yet not insulting. Some of the larger pieces such as the 14 foot mermaid we created for a float in Tampa, Florida was also challenging but at the same time lots of fun.

T.P.L. NYC: Aside from business, what are some other things that you like to do? Do you have any other hobbies or interests?

C.O.D.: Luckily my hobby became my business so I enjoy the long hours we put in around here. In Tampa, our studio was in a restaurant and entertainment district so we got really spoiled with good food. Living in Tampa, it was also pretty affordable. Moving back to New York I've had to learn to cook if I want to eat good food on a regular basis and that has turned out to be something I really enjoy. Stewart loves to read, garden, and is working on restoring the house, which is a cool little former summer cottage built around 1900.
Feed Me

T.P.L. NYC: Where do you see the future of Creatures of Delight going?

C.O.D.: Right now our main focus is on the three dimensional rubber creatures. In the future we'd like to branch out to do greeting cards and fun t-shirts and stuff like that. In the past, I supplemented the creature business doing life masks and castings as well as private makeup jobs for costume parties and such.

T.P.L. NYC: So this blog is about peculiar things. What is the most peculiar thing that has happened to you in New York City?

C.O.D.: When you make rubber creatures all of your life the idea of "peculiar" is very hard to fathom. We've met lots of peculiar and wonderful people and been able to do lots of peculiar and wonderful things. Lots of our customers could be called peculiar, like Marilyn, a nice lady who lives here in New York. She has a great number of our pieces and is known, on occasion, to take small groups of them to restaurants to have dinner with them. 

T.P.L. NYC: What is the most peculiar thing to happen to you in your life?

C.O.D.: We've also had numerous requests which some might find peculiar, but, at this point, they seem par for the course. One time in Tampa, we created a life sized transgender S&M shot dispenser for the owner of a gay bar who had a fetish for transgender people- it was totally nsfw! But even that doesn't seem so strange anymore.

Give the gift of monster love this season and learn more about Tom and Stewart - and all their other creatures- at their website:


Monday, November 4, 2013

November's Peculiar Person of the Month: Writer Hal Johnson

David Rondinelli

Hal Johsnon Drawn Portrait
I first met Hal Johnson while waiting in line at Midtown Comics, a large comic book retail store in NYC. It is often the playground of sacred space for many nerds and pop culture junkies to congregate for new and old titles. I’ve been familiar with his friendly face while being greeted by him at the register and his ability to always point me to the appropriate shelf where I can find the latest comic releases of the week. It was on one of these weekly excursions that I saw him signing copies of his book Immortal Lycanthropes at the same store. Immortal Lycanthropes is a YA novel that follows Myron Horowitz. Who is a disfigured boy who finds out that he can shape shift into an animal while discovering a world within a world of others that share the same ability. Johnson sat down with me to talk about the book, his writing process, and how he was once bitten by a mountain lion. Perhaps that bite was what put all the bite in his book as Hal Johnson is November’s Peculiar Person of the month.

This Peculiar Life NYC: Your story takes place in PA. Why did you choose this setting? Are you originally from there?

Hal Johnson: This may sound crazy, but I’m always a little suspicious of authors who set all their books in or near their own hometowns. I understand the impulse — you don’t want to get caught out in an absurd error by the locals, dropping mountains in Ohio or trees in New Jersey — but at the same time, I tell you: you can’t let the readers smell your fear. So I try not to set everything, or anything, in Connecticut, where I grew up. Pennsylvania is kind of a cheat; I’ve driven through parts of it, so I assumed I could bluff it enough to fool any hostile Pennsylvanians. No one’s called me out yet!

TPL NYC: Myron Horowitz is disfigured. You make a pretty bold choice in choosing a main character that isn’t considered attractive. I think it is refreshing to have a character that doesn’t look like a lot of the plastic on t.v. Why did you choose to make him disfigured?

HJ: I was doing a presentation at a library last week and a girl raised her hand and demanded to know why I made Myron ugly.

I probably did it partially just to be perverse, you know, because I knew protagonists should be beautiful, for the movie version. And partially because you want life to be hard for your protagonist, and what could be harder than being a runty high school freshman with a grotesque pan? I thought I was so clever.

And then R.J. Palacio came out, the same year I did, with a book about a kid with his face all jacked-up. Everyone in the book’s really supportive of him, and he gets an award at the end. It’s not a bad book, but it’s pretty much the opposite of any book I could possibly write; it has a protagonist who looks like Myron —and everyone love Palacio’s book. I’m serious, it's the toast of the town! Read it, you’ll probably love it too. I almost did.

That book is my nemesis.


TPL NYC:  You also take an interesting approach with the narration and the slow reveal of the other Lycanthropes, was it hard to write a book through that perspective?

HJ: I knew I wanted to start things normal — I mean, in a recognizable “real-world” high school setting — and move slowly into a stranger and more dangerous world. It’s the classic set up for any kind of fantastic narrative, and it has the advantage of letting the reader and the protagonist learn things simultaneously.
The idea of another world under or around this one has held a great fascination for me ever since I saw Mary Poppins as a kid, so it was pretty much a given I was going to write about a journey from this world to that one. And it’s got to be slow, right? One does not simply walk between worlds.
TPL NYC: When it comes to the mechanics of writing, how long does it take you to find the voice and the perspective to tell the story through?
HJ: This was probably the hardest part of the whole book — and I hit upon it as a kind of compromise. I didn’t want to tell the book from a first-person Myron perspective, first of all because I thought it would make Myron less mysterious to come at things from his head but also because I think adventure novels in the first person are kind of lame. I know there are lots of counterexamples, and I love Treasure Island, Warlord of Mars, and Allan Quatermain, but as a reader, I don’t like knowing the hero’s going to survive, and I don’t like him telling me about the dangerous scrapes he gets into — sounds like bragging. So I didn’t want Myron to tell his own story.
But at the same time, I’ve always been uncomfortable writing in third person. I picked a subsidiary character, and let him piece the story together. I figured this’d solve all my problems, and also allow for some dramatic irony, as the narrator is a little delusional.
I’ve been told that the book is just written in my own voice, and that if you know me, Arthur’s speech sounds exactly like my own. But man, that wasn’t intentional.
TPL NYC: How long did it take you to write the book?
HJ: It was about nine months, which I guess is a fair gestation time for my species.
TPL NYC: You also bring in a diverse cast, with the Lycanthropes being so different, are many of the animal counter parts found in many of those countries?
HJ: Yeah, I tried to keep things accurate. Of course, I was trying to match people and animals with where they would have been found 10,000 years ago. I mean, there are no longer any moose in Scotland; but there used to be.

TPL NYC: How did you go about deciding what animal each character was going to turn into?
HJ: I started with a list of animals I wanted in the book, and then worked towards the human. Really I just picked animals I liked. I thought a gorilla would look funny in an old lady’s robe, which is why the gorilla is an old lady. There probably isn’t much connection between the animal and the personality their humans got.
TPL NYC: Often, when readers get the finished manuscript they don’t always know what went into crafting the story. Which part of the book represented the most challenges for you to write?
HJ: Chapter nine, which is really the heart and soul of the book, is the part I had to go over and over to get right. It’s the narrator’s summary of his life and philosophy, and I wanted to let him talk — he’d been offstage for most of the book, this was his only real chance to get a word in — but at the same time I didn’t want the book to devolve into the boring old-man ramblings of a crazed binturong. I’m really happy with how it turned out, but, like a bear cub, it took a lot of shaping.
TPL NYC: On the flip side, what part of the book did you have the most fun writing?
HJ: I really liked writing the con games Gloria ushered Myron through. There used to be a lot more of these, but they got cut for space, which is too bad. I could write a whole book about nothing but a self-righteously amoral gorilla bilking people out of their money and then squandering it on gin. That probably wouldn’t be a kids’ book, I guess.
TPL NYC: Your book is in the Young Adult genre. What is it about this genre that appeals to you?
HJ: One of the most appealing things about YA is that publishers will publish it, and readers will read it. It’s a section of the bookstore that’s actually growing. The only other thing that grows is a bookstore is the despair.
There was one great thing about writing a YA book. It gave me the freedom to imagine a reader who wasn’t jaded and weary. I remembered the books I’d read as a kid, how they were brimming with ideas. It’s because I was young enough to accept and appreciate something new. I could have my mind blown. I wanted to blow someone’s mind, and I hope I did just that.

TPL NYC: Do you like to write in any other mediums?

HJ: I like to write songs. I think it would be a pretty good job, to be a lyricist, except it doesn't exist any more. Now they just put a bunch of cliches into a computer, and it spits out song lyrics.

Comic books take up a large portion of my life, so I wish I could write them, but I find it really hard to. I spend all my time trying to imagine how the panels should go on the page, and it ends up either boring or incoherent.

TPL NYC: Aside from writing, do you have any other interests or hobbies?

HJ: I spend more time reading than writing. I’d like to pretend I’m a writer, but really I’m a reader. I also run some Dungeons and Dragons games that take up a lot of my time. I used to write a lot for the game, ancient texts the players would need to dig up and decipher, scrawled confessions and historical treatises, or codes and riddles. They're getting pretty good at my riddles, but they still haven’t cracked my code. My players complain that I don’t write as much for the game any more, but I only have so much time.

I’d like to meet the man who answers this question “no.” That would be a single-minded man.

TPL NYC: What is your writing process like? Do you have any rituals or techniques, or do you just sit down and write?

HJ: A schedule is more important for me than a ritual. When I’ve got enough ideas together that I’m seriously writing a book, and not just daydreaming about it — I find it useful to assign myself a quota every day. Even if it’s just a nominal amount, forcing myself to sit and crank out some words is more productive than slipping back into the daydreaming.

TPL NYC: Are you a self-taught writer, or did you get formal training to be an author?

HJ: Is anyone allowed to be a self-taught writer nowadays? I mean the government frog-marched me at gunpoint to school, where I ostensibly got a rudimentary education in composition.

There’s probably a level of workshopping insidership that would see me as lacking formal training. Of course, most of my theory and practice of writing texts I learned from reading, so you see how it’s all connected.

TPL NYC: What do you do to get a good pacing for something as lengthy as a novel?

HJ: That’s a great question, because the pace of a novel is one of its most defining characteristics, but it rarely gets talked about.

We tend to believe, I think, that plot defines pace, but it’s really the narrative voice. You can tell a plot-heavy story really quickly, like a pulp, or you can drag it out over a great many pages, like Alexandre Dumas. So the question you have to figure out is at what clip does your narration go — and will you have enough room to tell the whole story if it stays at that clip.

I like to write ten or twenty pages “free-style,” just winging it to get an idea of how fast things are moving, before I plot a book out. That way I feel like I have a handle on the narrative speed, and I can make sure that I don’t cram so much into a book that it becomes unwieldy.

The other answer is: if your pacing starts to flag, the editor will just make you cut things out. The editor’s scissors are always there, like an ax outside the chicken coop.

TPL NYC: What do you think is the most effective way to tell a good story and how did you incorporate that into Immortal Lycanthropes?

Some original sketch work by Hal Johnson

HJ: There are as many ways to tell good stories as there are good stories. Borges, always a favorite of mine, invented the method of writing a story by pretending that someone else had already written the story, and then talking about this hypothetical preexisting text. I’m not saying every story should be told that way, but I love “The Approach to Al-Mu’tasim.”

I only slightly self-consciously tried to work a bunch of different narrative modes into the book. Some people tell their own stories and some people tell other people’s stories, and sometimes the narrator gives a summary of a vast swath of events, and sometimes he tells you all the dirt. Just to keep it interesting.

TPL NYC: You seem to have a special interest in animals. What are some of your favorite animals?

HJ: I love animals, but I want to stress that I don’t have a romantic idea of animals. Nature is red in tooth and claw for a reason, and animals are either constantly scared or constantly killing things — there’s very little middle ground. I know that there’s a pretty bleak picture of humanity painted in chapter 9 of Immortal Lycanthropes, and I’d hate to have anyone think that animals are better in comparison. Animals can’t make moral decisions, and I think it’s clear that if they could, they would, like us, choose evil pretty consistently. A great many insects can’t even reproduce without doing something horrible and disgusting; I mean horrible and disgusting even compared to the horrible and disgusting things humans do. It’s unlikely a girl I fancy is ever going to eat my corpse.

Obviously I love binturongs, and red pandas. I also love most mollusks, especially octopuses and snails, and arthropods, especially praying mantises.

TPL NYC: Do you have any pets?

HJ: I live in New York, so it’s part of my lease that I am forbidden to have any vertebrate pets, but I am apparently obliged to have thousands and thousands of tiny, invertebrate ones.

TPL NYC: If you could turn into an animal, which one would you like to be able to turn into?

HJ: I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this. There’s a lot of temptation to be an elephant or a lion so you can mess with anyone; but it might be smarter to be something small that can slip away, a weasel or a bat. My answer will change depending on the day, but today I’ll say a cheetah: you’re big enough to fight, but you can also sprint away from danger.

Alternately: as Bart Simpson says, “Nobody suspects the butterfly.”

More original sketch work by Hal Johnson

TPL NYC: Can we expect a sequel to Immortal Lycanthropes? Where would you like to see the story go?

HJ: I think it’s all wrapped up in a neat little package, with nowhere else to go. I guess if everyone wrote into Houghton Mifflin, inundating them with demands for more adventures, I could get corralled into turning this book into the first of a Baby-sitters Club–style series. “You’ve got to do it, Johnson,” my editor would roar, his cigar flying out of his mouth as he pounded his desk. “You’ve got to do it for the fans.” Other scenarios are less likely.

TPL NYC: How about other projects? What are some of the other things we can expect to see from you soon?

HJ: I’ve got several irons in the fire, but I am sworn to secrecy most direly. Anyway, every time I’ve made a prediction about what was coming up, I’ve been wrong. But it’ll be something, soon, and then you’ll see. “Deeds, not words,” as we say in Megaforce.

TPL NYC: This blog is about peculiar things, so what is the most peculiar thing that you have ever seen or been a part of while living in NYC?

HJ: Peculiarity is always a local phenomenon. Any time you leave your comfort zone, which in my case is made up completely of nerds, things get peculiar. I once tried to ride my bicycle from Newark Penn Station to Newark Airport in the middle of the night because my plane was too early for me to catch a bus and I thought it was ridiculous to pay five bucks to travel four miles; the bicycle was an ancient, tiny, one-speed with coaster brakes that squeaked and it drove the feral dogs insane as I got lost in Newark; they chased me. Everyone I asked for directions was clearly under the influence, but was still nice enough to warn me that in the direction I was headed, I was certainly going to be murdered. The point is, Newark at four in the morning was a surreal experience, but for the people I got directions from, or for the feral dogs, it must’ve just seemed like business as usual.

This is what’s beguiling about New York, the feeling it gives you that you can slide between worlds by walking one block in a different direction, or entering a storefront you’ve never gone in; this feeling that there are hundreds of peculiar worlds all around, and the one you happen to live in is only one of many possibilities.

TPL NYC: In the same vein, what is the most peculiar thing that has ever happened to you?

HJ: I was once bitten by a mountain lion. I would prefer not to elaborate.
Hal Johnson will be doing a reading and signing at the Enigma Bookstore (3317 Crescent St., Long Island City, NY 11106) on Novemnber 9th at 7 PM. He will also be doing a "teens only" event at the Queens Public Library, Cambria Heights branch, on November 27th at 3:30 PM.
Check out his website at, and his Facebook page,

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Peculiar Person of the Month: Monster Impressionist David G. Hardy

David Rondinelli

(Hardy, right, with Sara Karloff)

Artist David Hardy specializes in bringing his own style to the macabre. An avid fan of monsters since the time of his boyhood, he derived a lot of inspiration from the old creature features that would be broadcast every Friday night. Combining his love of art and monsters, he became an impressionist in many different mediums from pencil to pastels. Hardy, who will gladly take commissions, displays his work at many retro shows and comic cons in the tri-state area. He describes his work as “kitschy” subjects from the 1930’s to the 1960’s. Here at This Peculiar Life NYC, Hardy opened up about his love of monsters, comics, growing up in what he considers a wonderful age of art and striking a familiar chord with folks who never quite fit in.

This Peculiar Life NYC: What got you into doing portrait’s specifically?

David Hardy: I have always had a fascination with the human face. It is, after all, “the mirror to our soul!” Being perverse in nature, I chose the hardest subject to conquer! I have a drive to get the best likeness I can no matter what media I’m using! If it is someone famous, of course I want to make a work that is instantly recognizable, but even the most seemingly obscure subject deserves the same dedication!

TPL NYC: Do you use any other forms or mediums to express your art? If so, which ones do you prefer?

DH: Right now, I’m working primarily in pencils, brush, and ink. Because my subjects generally lend themselves to gray scale (I do a LOT of classic monsters from black and white films!) I have worked in just about every medium from oils, acrylics, watercolor, and pastels.

TPL NYC: You have a special interest in monsters and monster movies what do you think it is about these monsters that appeal to you so much?

Hardy's rendition of Sammy Terry
DH: Yes I do! I think there is a bit of the perceived “oddity” and outcast hiding in all of us if we are honest with ourselves! I think the classic monsters such as Frankenstein’s Monster, the Wolfman, the Invisible Man, the Phantom of the Opera, are all extensions of ourselves placed in a context that most intelligent people can understand. I see a LOT of myself in these misunderstood fellows! I was an extremely shy and introverted little boy growing up in Indianapolis, Indiana in the late fifties and sixties. The “Shock Theater” package was being sold at the time to stations around the country. Most stations created a local ghoul or mad doctor to introduce the films. In my local area, we had Nightmare Theatre horror host Sammy Terry!  I LOVED those magical Friday nights when I could immerse myself in those glistening, silver gray, shadow filled, storm drenched masterpieces of gothic horror. Although, the master, Boris Karloff, hated that description of what he did and preferred to refer to his “babies” as TERROR films!  I saw myself in those misunderstood, perceived “monsters.”  I too was outcast somewhat and misunderstood by many! Still am ha!

TPL NYC: Do you have a favorite monster that you enjoy following and drawing the most?

DH: My favorite monster to watch is The Creature From the Black Lagoon. Again, I can relate to this shy, imposed upon creature simply trying to live his life and be left alone. My favorite monster to draw, however, is the Frankenstein Monster. Boris Karloff’s interpretation, of course 

TPL NYC: What was the first monster movie/book/t.v. show that you remember seeing?  

DH: Wow…the very first one? Hmm… probably the original 1931 Frankenstein. I remember it took me a couple of tries to get through it.  Obviously, it made quite an impression on me!
TPL NYC: You have a preference it seems for the old B-movies and horror movies of the 40’s and 50’s. What is it about this time period that you like so much?

DH: That’s true!  Well…for one, I am of that time period! I was born in 1955. I think it was just a wonderful time when all the “stars” aligned to create this great golden era of fantasy and science fiction films! We will never see the like again. Great directors such as James Whale, Tod Browning, Karl Freund, Earl C. Kenton, Roy William Neil, also great actors and actresses such as (Boris) Karloff, Lon Chaney Sr. and Jr., Bela Lugosi, George Zucco, Lionel Atwill, Dwight Frye, Peter Lorre, Vincent Price, Gale Sondergaard, Evelyn Ankers, etc…a wonderful era!

(Hardy's rendition of The Creature from the Black Lagoon)

TPL NYC: How do you feel about the state of horror movies today? What do you like about them and not like about them?

DH: The state of horror films today?!  Uhh…don’t get me started! Ha! Seriously, I don’t see the quality of acting or the strong hand of a GREAT director in today’s films. I don’t believe that they are character driven stories anymore. Everything today is special effects and “bigger is better!”  Some of the best horror films ever made were made for little money and the directors and actors had to build that story for us and make it immersive to us.  I see that lacking in today’s work. I’ll stop there.

TPL NYC: You share a very famous birthday with a famous horror icon? Who is it?

DH: Yes I do!  The one and only “Karloff the Uncanny” and his daughter Sara are also born on November 23rd. No wonder we have a connection!

TPL NYC: Do you feel that you share a lot of similar qualities to Karloff?
DH: I would like to think so. According to his lovely daughter Sara Karloff, he was a gentle, loving man who had a special affection for children and dogs. I’d like to think he and I shared a work ethic as well, do the best you can at whatever it is called upon you to do! Give one hundred percent EVERYTIME!

TPL NYC: Have you gotten a chance to meet any of the people that you have drawn? What was that experience like?

(Hardy's rendition of Karloff as the monster)

DH: I’ve met many of my youthful idols. I’ve met Van Williams who played the Green Hornet on
t.v. I’ve met three of the Hammer Girls Martine Beswick, Caroline Munro,  and Veronica Carlson, I’ve met Judith O’dea, but probably my biggest thrill so far has been presenting gifts sketches to my all time crush the lovely Miss Julie Adams of  The Creature From the Black Lagoon fame and Richou Browning who played the Creature in all three films! When I met Miss Adams, the first time I couldn’t even talk to her, my wife Tracy had to go up to her and ask her if I could get an autograph and a picture!  

Another of my favorite subjects that I’ve met is Miss America 1955 and well known actress Miss Lee Meriwether! She is one of the nicest and most beautiful women I have ever had the pleasure of meeting!  I’ve met Miss Barbara Steele who made all of those iconic Italian gothic masterpieces in the sixties. I’ve met Miss Sara Karloff, daughter of my favorite monster maker Boris Karloff! A HUGE thrill! I’ve met Lon Chaney, the grandson and great grandson of Lon Chaney Sr. and Lon Jr. I’ve been a very fortunate man!

TPL NYC: How long does it usually take you to compose an image from initial conception to finished drawing?  
DH:  I work FAST! I usually get an idea for a piece, research images, and decide on a particular one that says what I want it to say and then I go at it!  I find that if I work to slowly, I start over thinking the process. I like to channel that original enthusiasm into the final product!  Depending on the size and detail…perhaps one to two hours!

(Hardy's portrait of Vincent Price)

 TPL NYC: Tell me about some of your travels? What are some of the places you have gone to in order to promote your work? Are there any special conventions or exhibits that you have showcased at?

DH: I’ve been to quite a few conventions. My favorite is the Monster Bash held annually in Mars, Pennsylvania. It’s three days of immersive monster fun! This past “Bash” I was especially honored to have some of my artwork in Monster Bash Magazine. It made the experience that much more satisfying for me!  I’ve had my work at several different venues such as the Clifton Comics Expo, Hasbrouk Heights Comic Show, Sketch Con, The Geek Flea Market, and I did Free Comic Book Day at Comic’s Explosion in Nutley. I’ll be the guest artist of the month at the upcoming Wayne, New Jersey Toy Show. I’ll be down the shore at the Jersey Shore Comic Con. I’ll also be appearing at the SCR, Langhorne Square, PA, Mini-Con at the end of this month!  I keep busy. Ha, ha!

(Hardy does Black Canary)
TPL NYC: You also draw some lovely ladies that in a pin-up style. Is there one that you like to draw the most or that you use to reference as inspiration?

DH: Yes, I love to draw pin-up style girls! I love women! I’ve done pieces with Bettie Page, Diane Webber, and I like to just make up my own ideal girl a lot of the time! It makes her more personal for me!  I love the work of Gil Elvgren, Frank Frazetta’s women are gorgeous, Fritz Willis, Zoe Mozart and many great artists who captured the beauty that is woman!

TPL NYC: Aside from monsters, you also do a lot of images of superheroes and comic book characters. What comics got you interested in drawing?

DH: I do some comic book characters. I grew up during the Silver Age of the late sixties and seventies, so I gravitate to those characters. My first idol in comics was Batman. I love the fact that he has no super powers! He is a true hero who is willing to face death every time he combats evil.  I’m a fan of the Sub-Mariner and Green Lantern. [When it comes to] newspaper strips [I liked] The Phantom, Rip Kirby, Hogarth’s Tarzan are some of my favorites!

TPL NYC: Are there any comic book titles that you still follow? If so, which ones are you reading?

DH: I still follow The Rocketeer, when it’s handled correctly. I’m loving this new book combining Eisner’s Spirit with The Rocketeer it looks great! And the story seems solid, which for me is a very important element!

(Hardy's rendition of Jack Nicholsen as the Joker)

 TPL NYC: Aside from you art, what else do you enjoy doing? Any other hobbies or interests that you would like to explore?

DH: I love to read!  I enjoy listening to music. I love nature, walking and taking photographs for possible future paintings!  I like to play the guitar … I LOVE classic film obviously!

TPL NYC: Of all the pieces that you have worked on, which ones have you found to be the most rewarding?
DH: The ones that I feel “flowed” from me. I consider myself an impressionist. I work fast and I strive to build that kinetic energy into my work. When I feel as though every stroke is right, every shadow falls where it should, every highlight is spot on…that’s when I feel I’ve done my job! Ironically, most of the work I thought was my best usually doesn’t illicit a strong response from the public. Ha!
TPL NYC: Also, which ones do you find to be the most challenging? 

DH: Most challenging?  Probably commissions I couldn’t connect to in a personal way. Pieces I had to sort of “piece together” from reference given to me. I’m a very individual (read that as PECULIAR! Ha! ) artist and I find it very difficult to do work that I don’t connect to on some personal level.

TPL NYC: Of all the different characters that you draw, which one do you feel customers have demanded the most?

DH: Easy … Karloff’s Frankenstein Monster!  Although, Godzilla also does quite well, and Mars Attacks! aliens!

(Hardy's rendition of the Wolfman)

TPL NYC:So this blog is about Peculiar People. What is the most peculiar thing you have every witnessed or been a part of in your life that you can recall?

DH: It is ironic and highly appropriate for me to be in an article honoring the peculiar! Since I am proud to count myself amongst them, the most peculiar… I guess me dressing up as a mask luchador at the Monster Bash Night of Mexican Wrestling Films.

TPL NYC: What is the most peculiar thing you have ever experienced in New York City?
DH: I LOVE New York City! [I like] going into the city at Christmas time to experience Rockefeller Center and seeing a group of clowns talking to Santa Clause. AWESOME!
To learn more about David Hardy you can follow him on his Facebook page Retro Reflections and Modern Impressions of David G. Hardy. His

portfolio is also featured on the main page on the official Boris Karloff website (

To meet him in person, Hardy will be a guest artist at the Wayne, New Jersey Toy Show on Saturday, October 6th.  Then you can see him at the Jersey Shore Comic Con on November 3rd in Forked River, N.J. You can find out more on his Facebook page.
(Hardy combines Bettie Page with Wonder Woman)