Thursday, February 28, 2008

Making a mark on the Marx Brothers

One day an artist chap popped up on my MSN looking for a script. I was surprised and greatly flattered because i am quite the fan of this Particular Creator and he is quite reticent to work with others.

I tossed out ideas; rock 'n roll porn, little riding hood modernisation, battling war tales. Like a little brother trying to impress his older sibling, i energetically made up nonsense hoping he'd play with me.

We discovered we had a common love; Marx Brothers.

I remember reading that Billy Wilder was going to direct a film; A Day at the UN staring the Marx Brothers and always thought it would be cool to write an imaginary comic adaption interspersed with biographical details.

But this idea was much much bigger than the 6 pages this creator wanted to spend drawing. So i had the idea of a self-contained old school trailer with cheesy narration, on-set interviewing and then a slam of quick jokes. And interspersed with biographical snippets.

The hard thing is getting the humour correct - not just repeating jokes from the other movies. I'm not sure I've succeeded that well - especially the physical humor of Harpo.

I wrote the first 5 pages while i was stuck at a beach house on Kangaroo Island, hours away from anything. Being an earlier riser, I'd type away (instead of fishing like the other insomniac). That wrote easily. The last 3 were hard, doing slapstick is tricky and that took me 2 months of pondering.

This is a second draft, so there will be spelling mistakes and grammatical hiccups.

Anyway, please enjoy my imagined adaption of the Marx Brothers in A Day at the UN.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

5 shades of Dino - how Dean Martin made me feel happier.

Late last year I got hit with the melancholy. Probably because of the suckiness of work, family infecting me with their madness and a general loss of direction (I need to do stuff; like build cellars, publish magazines or learn something new otherwise I feel a bit pointless).

I started listening to Dean Martin. Compulsively.

Martin came to prominence as Jerry Lewis’ straight man. And I loved Jerry Lewis as a kid. I remember every Sunday afternoon they’d play a Lewis movie, but only if I behaved in church – such was the power of my parents; act up in church they’d make sure Jerry Lewis (or as I said it apparently – “jer-wee woo-wis”) wouldn’t be on. So I’d tune out for an hour and a bit while the chubby priest prattled on in Slovenian backed by a tone deaf choir whose age averaged medieval, in the end learning a great patience.

At first it was all about the Jerry, but as I got older i noticed it was Martin that really carried the films. Jerry by himself was way to hammy, throwing up every slapstick trick and seeing what would stick. Martin gave the flicks a certain cool, some structure. In Hollywood and Bust (which I may have seen more than Star Wars) Martin hated Lewis, but you can’t tell. That's kind of cool.

So in my funk I’d gravitate to certain songs, which slowly become less and less depressing.

You belong to me

Just remember when a dream appears
You belong to meI'
ll be so alone without you
Maybe you'll be lonesome too and blue

At the time, Em was flying around to Sydney, making work trips to Mt Gambier, Whyalla so the song did kind of strike a cord. What’s interesting is that originally it was a female torch song; you can imagine it being sung to boyfriends and husbands going off to fight the war. But with Martin singing it sometime in the late 50s it brings in a new resonance – women strengthened during the war, boarding planes and leaving their traditional roles of housewives to see the world while their partners mournfully miss them. In my mind I picture a curly haired Ava Gardner type journalist, camera slung over her shoulder searching for the next big scoop, visiting beautiful exotic locales and meeting interesting people, while Martin is stuck at home hoping his girl doesn’t forget him. It’s all rather hopeless and depressing.

(Of course I don’t feel really comfortable with “You belong to me” so i prefer to mumble “You’re the one for me” in tune, of course.)

Little ole Wine Drinker Me -

And when they ask who's the fool in the corner,

Travelling a little bit away from dumpsville but still within city limits, Martin is broken hearted, far from home, his only consolation is drinking wine, which I think is probably the saddest alcohol. Some will say bourbon, but nope; wine is cheap, easy to drink and no hungover is as bad as a one from 3 bottles of cheap red wine. But it is a nice way to suffer.
Except for wine and a working jukebox, Dino’s got nothing going for him; but when you consider the old adage of wine, women and song – two out of three ain’t too bad.


Nobody calls me freind,

Its sad the shape I'm in

Going back to Houston
I Got a girl waiting out for me
Well at least she said she'd be

Dean Martin loved Country music, apparently. He even played a cowboy in one of the best traditional Westerns ever. Though in this video he's bit more Roy Rogers than John Wayne. Houston is about a down on his luck guy just wanting to get to Houston. Its pretty depressing but there’s some life, a bit of hope that his girl might be waiting there for him, but in the least he's got a home and bed. Its got some clever lyrics and is kind of funny, especially when compared to the other ‘funny’ western song; Not Enough Indians which is archaic and misogynistic.

Open the door and let the good times in -

Don't let nothing stand in your way
Just open up the door and let the good times in
Tomorrow's gonna be better than today

What I appreciate about this song is the production, not so much in the video but in the Capitol Records (or Columbia) audio release. A lot of Dean Martin songs from the late 50s - early 60s have these awful back up singers that all sound like cloned fat bald men, or blonde stepford wives; their only job is to repeat the lyrics in unnerving perfect harmony. Its frustrating in something like Standing on the corner, to have this barber shop quartet echoing the lyrics; washing the tomcat out of the lyrics making it into something homogenous and safe. This song though has this great party mood, even though its about a poor, hungry smoker who’s girlfriend is fooling around on him and has discovered rodents have drunk all his alcohol – essentially a miserable existence there's this great unbridled hope and joy. You can't help but smile.

On an evening in Roma -

Down each avenue or via, street or strata
You can see 'em disappearing two by two
On an evening in Roma
Do they take 'em for espresso
Yeah, I guess so
On each lover's arm a girl
I wish I knew
On an evening in Roma

Finally, away from the blues; far from the sad drunk who’s woman has left him; the poor jobless stooge far from home – this is an ode to being with the one you love. Even cheekily wondering what those couples are getting up to as they slip away. I sway from being a francophile to an italophile (???) but I hear this song and I’m Marcello riding my vespa on cobbled streets on my way to meet my senorina, dodging hanging laundry hoping no one will notice the melted chocolate gelato on my suit.

Don't know what the country's coming to
But in Rome do as the Romans do

Makes decisions so much easier.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Waldo's Hawaiian Holiday in the Press

Gestalt Publishing is releasing a Graphic Novel sequel to Repo Man and its recieved some ink in EW and on the Cinematical blog

It looks pretty exciting

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Dave de Vries: Comic Maker, Decision Maker, Movie Maker

I read in the Advertiser yesterday an article on 'amateur' film makers and one of the film makers featured was Councillor Dave De Vries, best known for Southern Squadron and the Phantom mini (Marvel), he also did a good Green Lantern Annual and Black Lighting series.

Well he's making a short film.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Comic comic podcast #1

The second podcast by David Blumenstien and Ben Hutchings is up. Most interestingly is the talk about selling comics to shops. In my web consulting and writing for the web training I've started using Pareto Principle; Pareto was an early 20th century economist who discovered that 80% of the wealth of Italy was held by 20% of the population. Since then its been used as a rule of thumb - i use it to say 20% of an organisation's business responsibility is needed by 80% of the community so websites need to reflect that 20%; all other content is non-core and a waste of time. The Pareto Principle is also used in sales; that 80% of sales come from 20% of your customers. That's not to say that individuals are buying multiple copies. When i think of customers, I think of either comic shops or venues where i sell the book like zine fairs and conventions. And at first with Ozcomics Magazine and Sureshot Presents I'd chase every sale (moreso with the Magazine); deal with multiple shops selling 1-5 copies in each shop except for 3 shops which would order 20+ copies consistently. At first I'd thought that the shops that had smaller orders would grow but they didn't so i stopped bothering.

Now I'm thinking that I might just deal with Adelaide, cons and fairs - my cut is bigger and i sell more with less hassle.

On a related note the guys also talk about writing to an audience, this was brought up at Pulp Faction as well. I'm in the commercial camp; i think that you need to consider your audience and write for them. I always find the people who say "You write/create for yourself" to be essentially wankers. They either suffer egos so large the believe themselves to be more important than the audience (who essentially pay them) or people with no confidence in their skills so when their work doesn't "succeed" (however they define success) they counter with "I wrote it for myself (so it doesn't matter what other people thought of it)". I think its more important to be happy with what you create, to be proud of it otherwise you are just hacking for a wage (not that there is anything wrong with that; many plumbers, nurses and taxi drivers are doing what they do to put food on the table - they have no pretension about it). So i'm in the mind that it should be "You make sure you are happy with your work".

I think the Comic show at the Melbourne comedy festival is a great idea and is a billion times better outreach program than anything else i've seen; FCBD, cons).

Another good show.

And the Stan Lee