June is going to be H-O-T!

At last, a bit of time to update our friends and fans before we start our BUSIEST month yet!  Wump Mucket Puppets will be performing 6 shows during the month of June 2012, and we couldn’t be happier.  Well Coleman is a little cranky, and has asked for a second air conditioner for his trailer,  maybe next year “furry guy”.

First a little recap of our May shows!  Free Comic Book Day at Maverick’s Comics in Finneytown was a BLAST!  Thanks to all our super-fans who came to the show to hear Coleman “sing” the Batman theme song.  WHAT!  You missed this historic performance?  Fear not good citizens, we have been asked to return for Free Comic Book Day 2013!  So mark your calendar right now for Saturday May 4th 2013!  Ka-Pow!

Coleman in a pile of Wump Mucket Puppets mini-comics issue 1

Speaking of comics, we are nearly out of the first printing of issue number 1 of our very own mini-comic.  If you would like a copy for your comic collection, send us a message from our contact page.  We’ll let you know how to get a FREE copy.  The comic has been so well received by our fans, issue 2 is in the works.  It tells the soon to be legendary tale of how a certain Sea Serpent and a Sasquatch first met!

While we are on the subject of art,  Wump Mucket Puppets very first fan (really gang she’s been here since the start!) Eleanor Burke (age 7 1/2) has created the concept for our special Summerfair Cincinnati coloring page.  She has been watching her daddy draw his puppets and came up with this very cool (and colored!) piece of artwork!

Art is Fun! by Eleanor Burke

Come see our show at Summerfair Cincinnati  on Sunday June 3rd at 12 noon for a coloring page version of this original piece that is now part of the Wump Mucket Puppets art archives.

Our May performance at Julian’s Deli in Loveland was lots of fun and we had a ball meeting new friends and fans.  We hope that you’ll come see us there on July 15th at 2 PM.  Performing in the city of the legendary Loveland Frog has inspired the “puppet construction department” to begin sketching ideas for a new puppet character to join our little troupe.  What would YOU name a strange frog-like creature?  Ribit!

Finally, work on the video starring G’Wazzl for our artist pal Andy Finkle is making progress!  We think that you will really get a chuckle out of this one and we’ll upload it as soon as it’s finished.

Cyril says PUPPETS ROCK!  We hope to see you in June!

What’s with the strange creatures?

My interest in strange creatures, aliens, and other oddities probably started a few years after I became “puppet crazy” in the early 1970’s.  I remember that my father had an interest in these sort of things.  Dad (Denis E. Burke) used to watch the  TV show “In Search Of” with my siblings when we were young.  Years later, my dad had a radio talk show on WBZ radio in Boston and interviewed M.I.T. scientist & lecturer Robert Rines.  I was spellbound that a scientist was researching The Loch Ness Monster, and my father was interviewing him!  Later in his radio career, my dad interviewed physics professor and ufologist Dr. Harley D. Rutledge.

UFO and Nessie on the wall of Ha Ha Pizza in Yellow Springs Ohio

Around 2005, as I began to get things together for what would become the Wump Mucket Puppets, I was having a bit of trouble how to tie it all together.  I wanted a theme or idea that held the show together.  I was reading books by cryptozoologist Loren Coleman at the time, and had one of those “eureka” moments!  I loved puppets.  I had a very strong interest in cryptozoology, aliens, and strange things.  Why not combine the two?

Cyril the Sea Serpent had been built, and was developing as “the monster of ceremonies” for the puppet show.  I had found a furry little brown puppet from my childhood packed away in a box, originally called “Furry Guy” by my then toddler daughter Eleanor.  It didn’t take too long to rename the puppet “Coleman the Sasquatch”, as a wink to Loren Coleman as well as a fond memory to camping trips with my family and the Boy Scouts (Coleman camping gear -get it?).  I eventually came up with the idea for an alien puppet character.  I seem to remember that the name came first, followed by a sketch, and eventually the puppet we know as G’Wazzl G’Wook (his full name) was part of the show.

G'Wazzl at Julian's Deli in Loveland Ohio

It wasn’t until G’Wazzl was built and ready for the show that I noticed that the puppet resembled a chupacabra a little bit, although G’Wazzl is much friendlier and prefers Play-Doh to goats.

Chupacabra and Jackolope on wall of Ha Ha Pizza Yellow Springs Ohio

So what strange creatures and alien beings are in the future for Wump Mucket Puppets?  Coleman has already made a few references to his cousin Snavely from Pennsylvania during the show.  Cyril talks about his Aunt Bessie during “The Song About Cryptozoology” bit.  A little voice inside my head has suggested creating a Loveland Frog character to perform at our shows at Julian’s Deli, which is not far from the frogman sightings in Loveland, Ohio.  We shall see and leave this a mystery for now.

Mural on the wall of Ha Ha Pizza in Yellow Springs Ohio

In the meantime, beware of the puppeteers in black!

Puppeteer Terrence Burke of Wump Mucket Puppets

For our younger readers & fans of my puppet show, my I suggest the book Tales of the Cryptids: Mysterious Creatures That May or May Not Exist

Wump Mucket Puppets makes it’s Cincinnati TV debut!

What a day it’s been!  I did not sleep very well last night as I anticipated my guest appearance on Cincinnati television station FOX 19’s Morning Xtra program this morning.  Of course a few minor things happened as I prepared to leave Wump Mucket’s super secret HQ in Northside.  The GPS would not stay in it’s base, so I left it on my lap, then there was traffic on the highway due to an accident (with 4 fire trucks!), and finally the @#$!ing GPS directed me to the BACK of the TV station!  Argh!  Good thing I left early.

Cyril at FOX 19

Cyril at FOX 19

Everyone at FOX 19 was very friendly and made me feel welcome.   I hope that they will invite me and the puppets back on in the not too distant future because Coleman is rather ticked off that he didn’t get to come along.  The things I do for these silly puppets!

Terrence Burke and Cyril at FOX 19

Terrence and Cyril in the Green Room at FOX 19

For those of you who missed the show, or live outside the Cincinnati area, here’s a link to the video:

Thanks Frank, Tracey, Sheila, and the entire FOX 19 crew, you know that PUPPETS ROCK!

Tee Vee Land here we come!

In less than 48 hours Cyril the Sea Serpent will have made his broadcast television debut.  We hope that you will watch us on FOX 19’s Morning Xtra show on Wednesday May 2nd at 9 AM.  If you live outside of the Cincinnati area, don’t worry, we’ll be sure to post a link to the video later in the day.

I am excited (and a bit nervous) about the idea that my puppetry is about to take a giant step forward.  My childhood dream of being a performing puppeteer came true in 2010 and has gradually gained a steady audience since.  Who knows what will happen next?!?

Things are about to get very busy for me and my puppet characters.  We have a few new songs and funny bits to perform for our fans, our first mini-comic is ready to read and color, and perhaps a surprise or two.  Thanks to all of you who read my blog, follow us on Facebook & Twitter, watch our videos on Youtube, and most of all attend our puppet shows.

Here’s a fun little video of my daughter (and future puppeteer partner) Eleanor singing with Cyril, feel free to sing along if you know the tune.


DVD review round-up time

In the last couple of weeks I have had the pleasure to view two new films (on DVD) that I found very touching.  Thanks to the Cincinnati Library for being such a GREAT library and adding these DVDs to their already amazing collection

The first is a documentary following the puppeteer Kevin Clash, you know, the man beneath the world’s most famous furry red monster.  The film is titled “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey”, and what a journey (and treat) this film is.  I found myself close to tears as the story is told of how a child from a working class Baltimore family follows his dream all the way to Sesame Street.  I remember when I was around 10 years old and read about Kevin in an issue of National Geographic’s World magazine for children in the 1970’s, and thinking “Wow!  He makes his own puppets”.  Who knows where I would be now if I had followed that road back then?  Keeping in mind that I grew up watching “classic” Sesame Street I first found Elmo to be annoying.  Neither of our children became very attached to the puppet, yet we do have a number of toys and things with his likeness printed on it around the house.  Over time I have accepted Elmo, and found humor in his appearances both on and off Sesame Street.  I was pleased that the filmmakers captured a very real look at this very talented and successful puppeteer’s life when he is not performing Elmo.  He’s a human being following his dream, just like many of us.         Here’s the trailer.    I give this **** and recommend that you see it.

The next film that I enjoyed is also about a puppeteer (imagine that!), well puppetry was just a part of the volume of work completed in the lifetime of the film’s key figure, Fred Rogers“Mister Rogers & Me: A Deep and Simple Documentary Film” is the work of brothers Benjamin and Christofer Wagner, and what a wonderful piece of work it is.  At the start of the film Benjamin recalls his time spent as Fred Rogers real life neighbor and then takes to the road to speak to some of the people that Fred Rogers was friends with in his life time.  You may have heard of a few of them; Susan Stamberg, Tim Russert, and Found Magazine’s Davy Rothbart .  Each person had wonderful memories to share about the person Mister Rogers was and how his work touched their lives.

I was one of the early viewers of “Mister Rogers Neighborhood” as a young boy in the 1960’s and like Sesame Street it was the puppets that pulled my young eyes to the television screen everyday.  My childhood had some difficult times, and I can recall wishing to live in “The Neighborhood” or “The Land of Make Believe”, since everything seemed so more appealing to me back then.  Now, as a father of two children, I try to keep Fred Rogers simple yet very true words of wisdom in my everyday life.  The Wagner brothers have created a very simple and honest film that helps continue to spread Fred Rogers wisdom to a world that I feel could really use more neighbors like him more than ever.  Here is the trailer.  I give the film **** and a cardigan sweater.

Terrence Burke performing Coleman the SasquatchWatching these films made me reflect on a few things;  My own childhood, both the good times and the not so good times. The past 8 years of fatherhood, and my work as a puppeteer.  One thought stayed with me, and that is we are here on this planet a very short time.  We should do something that we love and share it with others.  If you watch either of these films, I’d love to know what you think about them.  Drop me a message at www.facebook.com/wumpmucketpuppets

Coming this May… Wump Mucket Puppets Comics!

You read that right, we are “expanding the brand” a little bit by creating a home made comic book to take our puppet characters on adventures beyond the puppet stage.

My love for comics probably started a short time after I became “puppet crazy” in 1969.   This was due to the fact that I was five years old, and still learning to read.  The superhero comics were a favorite, yet I was always interested in the comic versions of my favorite Saturday Morning cartoon characters.  We didn’t have DVDs back then, so if you wanted to see Bugs Bunny on a Tuesday afternoon, you had to pick through your pile of “funny books” and read about that “wascally wabbit”.  Those were the days!

When I thought about the similarities of  puppet shows, cartoons, and  comic books I had one of those “eureka” moments. The Wump Mucket cast was a little hesitant at first, yet with a bit of cajoling (and some cookies for Coleman) they agreed to have their likenesses appear in print.  I am thrilled to be able to release our first comic on Free Comic Book Day, May 5th 2012 at Maverick’s in Finneytown.  More info here

For those of you who would like to obtain one of these certain collectables, I will save a few that you can send away for through the mail.  Start saving cereal boxtops.

Until next time, excelsior!

Yes! We’re still kickin’!

I know it’s been weeks since I have shared anything with our wonderful fans.  I am sorry.  Life outside the puppet booth has been a bit bumpy.  Yet let’s not talk about that.

Wump Mucket Puppets are planning several shows that we are in the process of ironing out the details.  Keep an eye on our SHOWS page for updates.

We also have a new video for artist Andy Finkle in the planning stages.  Andy is the very talented guy who painted this FAB portrait of our orange alien pal G’Wazzl.

Andy Finkle G'Wazzl painting

Take a peek at his webpage at www.andyfinkle.com

Thanks for hanging in there for us gang.  I promise to let you know about all the cool stuff we have cooking for Wump Mucket Puppets in 2012!

Puppets + Pizza = ?

What began as a few sketches on a piece of paper this past Summer is now many zeros and ones on your computer screen. What in the world am I babbling about? Why the promotional video that Wump Mucket Puppets have created for Cincinnati Pizza shop NYPD Pizza of course.

Puppets have been the “spokes things” for products for decades. Burr Tillstrom’s Kukla & Ollie pitched RCA washing machines in the 1950’s. Long before Jim Henson was a household name his Muppets were selling Wilkins Coffee and LaChoy “Chinese” food. I am very proud to have the opportunity of join these legends of puppetry, by having my puppet characters help promote a local, family owned business that I am a regular customer of for many years.

Who knows, perhaps this is the start of something bigger for me and my little gang of puppets?

Now go and order yourself some pizza at www.NYPDpizza.com   -tell ’em Cyril sent ya!

Here’s our 2011 Holiday Sing-A-Long show poster

One of the great things about being “the boss” at Wump Mucket Puppets is that I get to wear many crazy hats.  Over the last few days I have been fiddling with the computer to create this snazzy new poster to help promote of 2011 Holiday Sing-A-Long show on December 22: Wump Holiday 11 Poster

I hope to see you at the show!

Bringing a Burke Family Christmas story back to life

This year’s Holiday Sing-A-Long puppet show will be very special.  I will be including a story that I am re-writing from a childhood memory.  The story that the Wump Mucket Puppets will be telling is titled “Billy the Christmas Moose”.  It was originally told by my late father Denis Burke to my brothers and sisters in the early 1970’s.  I think that my dad made up the story as he went along, he was a great improvisor.  He illustrated the tale on our kitchen blackboard to help us visualize the characters in his story.

Burke Children Christmas in the early 70's

(L-R) Terrence, Susan, Chris, Andy and Santa

The trouble is, all I can remember is the title and a picture of a young moose looking up into the winter sky.  When I first thought about sharing this part of my childhood with my audience, I asked my siblings if they could remember anything about the story.  Sadly, no one could.  So I found myself creating a family Christmas story that already had a title, but no story for my puppets to tell.  After reading  a bit of the tale to my children and wife, I’d say that I am on the right track.  I hope that you will join us to hear my version of “Billy the Christmas Moose” on Thursday, December 22nd at Sidewinder Coffee & Tea at 2 PM.