Friday, 12 January 2018

On the 11th day of Christmas…

… this blogger gave to thee…
… eleven stranger things…
… ten dystopian outlooks…
… nine resin paintings…
… eight endings too soon…
… seven shoes to choose from…
… six party dresses…
… five gold rings…
… four living hinges…
… three books for reading…
… two felted tooties…
… and a day Binging with Babish.

We’re having a "science fiction double feature" for day eleven. On day ten we had Charlie Brooker’s dystopic sci-fi as our subject matter, and today we’ve got art work and parody galore relating to the Duffer Brothers, Stranger Things.

If you haven’t come across Stranger Things yet, I’m deeply impressed since you’re obviously more of a recluse than I am. I’d shake your hand but that would involve interaction with other people...


Anyway, for those of you who haven’t seen or heard about the show yet, Stranger Things is based in 1983, in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana. It’s a small enough town that everyone knows everyone else’s business, and the only real secrecy is what goes on in the nearby Hawkins National Laboratory, which says it’s researching for the Energy Department, but may have also opened a portal to an alternate dimension. From which something has gotten out.

This coinciding with the disappearance of Will Byers as he cycles home from a marathon Dungeons and Dragons campaign, can’t be a coincidence. So as Will’s mother, Joyce frantically looks for her son with the help of police Chief Jim Hopper and some Christmas lights, Will’s friends Mike, Lucas and Dustin start their own investigation, helped by a strange girl they found in the woods, named Eleven.

Stranger Things is a full-on homage to the 1980’s, full of pop culture references to the decade that anchor it in that time-period, including one of the queens of late eighties and early nineties cult movies for me, Winona Ryder. Starring in Beetlejuice (1988), Heathers (1988), Edward Scissorhands (1990), Mermaids (1990) and Little Women (1994), these were some of my favourite movies growing up and have remained so, and I swear if you don’t at least well up a little during Little Women, I’m pretty sure you have a little bit of the Upside Down inside you.

Or maybe you’re a Demogorgan, and they didn’t have them in the Upside Down during the eighties and nineties. Maybe that’s why it’s so cranky!

"Eleven" by Taryn Knight (Taryn Draws)
 My little sister has this illustration, and when I saw it, I honestly wanted to steal it. I like how different her style and design is, especially compared to a lot of the other Stranger Things art there is around. There’s no hint of the Upside Down, no Demogorgan, no other kids, it’s just Eleven creepily wandering around the woods eating Eggos. 

"Mr. Mom" Lutfi Herdiansyah (Lysergi44)
When you watch Stranger Things something wonderful happens, they introduced the character of Steve Harrington, played by Joe Keery, and initially you’re not a fan, but actually, if I had to give a list of my favourite characters, his would be in the top three (Dustin, Chief Hopper and Steve). They made me very quickly and completely change my opinion on Steve, especially in relation to the kids and how he always ends up being their reluctant babysitter. This is more prevalent in season two, but the Mr. Mom persona is one he takes on well and this movie poster by Lutfi Herdiansyah (Lysergi44), looks exactly like the video covers I remember as a kid. Plus look at Dustin’s little face with Dart, adorable!

"Stranger Things Parody" by Hillywood Show

I couldn't post a series of Stranger Things homages without including the Hillywood Show's parody which came out this past October. The parody stars Hilly and Hannah Hindi, the creators of the Hillywood as Mike and Eleven, Phil LaMarr as Lucas, who you may be more familiar with as Hermes from Futurama, and Richard Speight Jr. as Dustin and Kim Rhodes as Joyce Byers, who both starred in Supernatural (as Gabriel and Sherriff Jody Mills), and it has the most irritatingly catchy parody version of “Super Freak” which I had stuck in my head for weeks! This is my favourite of the Hillywood parodies, both performance wise and musically, since their Supernatural edition. And hats off to the Hindi sisters for getting Mike and Eleven so spot on, and making this such a fun production. Here’s hoping for part two!

"Stranger Things Television Art Watercolor" by Penelope Love Prints

There are a lot of Stranger Things poster art with this kind of layout. A page split between Hawkins and the Upside Down with the kids and the Demogorgan respectively. But what I like about Penelope Love Prints poster, is the simplicity of it, with just black and white silhouettes and the dark but still colourful blue green colour scheme she’s chosen for the image, it's effectively making it menacing without using a tonne of detail. Plus, I’m a sucker for this kind of colour scheme. 

"Barb" by Thomas Humeau

Justice for Barb! Poor Barb, sitting all alone at the edge of the pool not knowing what’s about to happen, and as you can imagine from what’s under the waters surface, nothing good. Again, this is a poster that exploits the split between dimensions, but instead of simply making one dark and one light, Thomas Humeau has highlighted the fact that the Upside Down is a dystopic nightmare version of the town of Hawkins, mirroring the architecture in a state of complete decay.

Plus there's something really nice and particularly 1980's about the muted blue and pink colour palette, which now I think about it may also link to the outfit Barb wears during this scene... 

"Stranger Things Parody" by Sesame Street 

I have a long-standing love for The Muppets, and when I was a kid, I loved Sesame Street too, which they still showed in the UK, on Channel 4, back in the nineties. There’s just something about Muppets, they taught us about numbers, letters and rubber duckies and you always had your favourites, mine being Snuffy, Big Bird and the Cookie Monster… or the Cookiegorgon, as he’s known in the Stranger Things Parody, having eaten everything from the Snackside Down and is now laying waste to every Halloween snack in Hawkins.

See, everything’s better with Muppets!

"Stranger Things" by Ryan Ottley

This is a preparatory sketch by Ryan Ottley of The Demogorgan and Eleven, and while he’s subsequently finished his full piece of fan art, Ilike the sketch he did at his local draw night (I assume this is a drawing night, which is kinda cool), mostly because you can still see some of the sketching. However, what I really like about this image, is the similarity in the stand off poses between the characters. The fact that Elevens limbs are elongated to almost mirror the Demogorgan is a nice way to show the connection between them.

The Babysitter | Netflix Twitter

We’re going back to the idea of Steve being Mr. Mom, the best damn babysitter in Hawkins, but this time the poster design is based on that of the horror comedy movie The Babysitter (2017) in which a boy stays up after his babysitter thinks he’s asleep and discovers she’s not only playing spin the bottle, but part of a demonic cult. Steve Harrington is not part of a demonic cult, he’s just got to look after the kids while there’s a monster running around town.

Now, I can’t find the exact artist who created this poster – if you know it please let me know – the only attribution I can find is to Netflix, which given they distribute The Babysitter as well with the original version of this poster, I feel that they’re probably responsible for it. But, it has been used by various people on Redbubble and Etsy to make prints. So I can’t give you a specific name. Only a cool poster, sorry.

"Stranger Things Uncoated Lithograph with Glow Layer" by Barry Blankenship

Did you ever have glow in the dark stars when you were a kid? Stuck to your ceiling, glowing that weird creamy mint green that only glow in the dark objects have and that were probably the last thing you looked at as you fell asleep?

I did, and actually still do have a few, stuck to my door because as they fell from the ceiling over the years, that’s where they got stuck. But I admit, I still love things that glow in the dark. Which this lithograph by Barry Blankeship, definitely does. Which is just freaking cool, and yes, it absolutely swayed me towards including this.

"Stranger Things" by Glen Brogan

 I don’t know if this is intentional, but the thing that Glen Brogan’s illustration of Stranger Things reminds me of the most, is Walt Disney’s animated Alice in Wonderland. Specifically when she’s in Wonderland, in the dark depths of Tulgey Wood where she first meets the Caterpillar, the Cheshire Cat and the momeraths outgrabe. There’s something about the stylised, almost paper cut looking manner of illustration, which both have, but in the warm/cool colour palette which shows the difference between Hawkins and The Upside Down.  

I think we can all agree, we’d take Wonderland over The Upside Down even with the Queen of Hearts penchant for removing heads!

"Stranger Things in Limbo" Paul Connor (ichigopaul23)

Okay, so, aesthetically I love this piece of digital art by Paul Connor, the colour and the ‘snow’ and creepy trees are all really evocative of the actually shows aesthetic, and I kinda loved the creepy glowing eyes on Eleven, but wasn’t one hundred percent sure why her eyes were glowing. Then looking at the description for the piece, I realised it’s a cross over with a video game I’d never heard of called, Limbo

The game is a 2D platform about a nameless boy, in the woods on the edge of hell, looking for his sister and trying to navigate his way through various dangerous traps and challenges along the way. Having now done a little research into it, it has an absolutely gorgeous aesthetic full of shadowy layers of trees and silhouetted foreground characters, it’s just beautiful and creepy and I may need to go buy and play it now. So I completely understand the glowing eyes and why Connor would want to combine Stranger Things with Limbo, for a really beautiful piece of art. 

And that’s the nice thing. Stranger Things have been one Netflix most popular and critically claimed originals, and you can see it in the sheer volume and variety of artwork it’s fans have created, which other than it being an excellent series which I can’t encourage you to watch more, is the subject of this post. Eleven homages to Stranger Things

… that said. I have excluded one of my favourites, which is the fan theory that Steven Harrington is actually the father of Jean Ralphio from Parks and Recreation

... you may need to be a fan of both to understand that one.

Happy New Year! Part twelve tomorrow... definitely tomorrow! Or today seeing it's twenty past two in the morning...

Link || Stranger Things (2016-) | Netflix IMDb | Wikipedia
Link || Taryn Knight (Taryn Draws) | Tumblr | Etsy | Twitter | Instagram | Society6
Link || Lutfi Herdiansyah (Lysergi44) | Tumblr | DeviantArt | Instagram
Link || Hillywood Show | Website | Youtube | Tumblr | Twitter | Instagram
Link || Penelope Love Prints | Tumblr | Etsy | Instagram | Pinterest | YouTube | Redbubble
Link || Thomas Humeau | Tumblr | Instagram | Etsy | Pretty52
Link || Sesame Street Parody | YouTube
Link || Ryan Ottley | Website | Tumblr | DeviantArt | Instagram | Twitter | Big Cartel 
Link || The Babysitter | Netflix Twitter
Link || Barry Blankenship | Website | Geek Native | Dark Ink
Link || Paul Connor (ichigopaul23) | DeviantArt | Tumblr | Twitter | Redbubble

Listening: Stranger Boy (The Weeknd ‘Starboy’ vs. Survive ‘Stranger Things Theme’) - Flipboitamidles

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