Friday, 13 February 2015

Weekly Update #70: EAT PRAY LOVE Meets MY DINNER WITH ANDRE About a Genocidal Cartoon Aardvark


Hello, everyone!  Lots of ground to cover so...
1. All, repeat ALL, CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWOs are now en route.  CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER THREE Kickstarter scheduled to launch one week from today! 
2. "Workcamp David" gearing up to start processing the Off-White House Copies hopefully in the next week in descending order of condition. 
3. CEREBUS:FRACTURED DESTINY the 3D movie continues to make progress.  We are not, repeat NOT, anti-movie business, anti-investor or anti-Hollywood but we ARE Creator-Driven 
4.  The Brad Pitt parody movie poster is done and arrived in California yesterday morning, doubtless relieved to be away from the -31 degrees Celsius Kitchener winter weather

1.  After the usual "white knuckle" one-day pause at the border, all of the U.S. copies of CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO are officially on their way to the Pledge Partners' addresses.  Major applause for Funkmaster John and Funknephew Rolly for shaving major time off of their previous delivery record.  And catching me flat-footed in the process.  So I spent yesterday and the day before prepping my commentaries for CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER THREE which (God willing) will have its Kickstarter launch February 20th, a week from today.

Same as last time, I thought I would just "bomb through" the commentaries in a day and this is now day three and I've got about another quarter of them to do.  Since nine of the ten earliest CHURCH & STATE pages in the Cerebus Archive are "Silverspoon" pages -- the PRINCE VALIANT parody -- my commentaries have really turned into "Why I'm Not Hal Foster and Never Will Be".  Which I'm really looking forward to because of the near complete dearth of quality black-and-white reproductions from PRINCE VALIANT available commercially.  So Sean will be dipping into scans from the Heritage Auctions and ULTRA-sharpening them as only Sean can and you'll be able to see, head-to-head just how feeble I am in the BEING HAL FOSTER Sweepstakes.  And how Hal Foster just NAILS "Non-stylized Realism" with flawless work that spanned four decades.  I mean, FLAWLESS.

A reminder to Sean who is still juggling various suggestions for the next ten Bonus Prints, that, Sean, you're only going to be posting two new ones every Friday, same as we did last time.  Lots of really good choices to pick from, I have to say.  I'm glad I'm not the one choosing :)

Potential problem I foresee with the Bonus Prints is that we'll be retiring ten of them each time out.  Which I can see some folks getting stressed about: so "never say never".  What we will say is that the "Last Chance" prints this time around will be offered signed and numbered for the last time at the $9 rate (plus $1 postage) but you will be able to get them unsigned and unnumbered after that for $20 each.  The price bump really results from the EXTREME inconvenience of having to do "onesies and twosies" in addition to the on-going CEREBUS ARCHIVE workload.  As I say, we "get" "never say never" but:  it's quite a workload just as it is.  Balanced against "BUT I HAVE TO HAVE THAT PRINT!"  We "get" that as well.

We're going to be posting a goal of $800 as we've done the last couple of times.  Not being pessimistic, just my way of saying -- again and again and again -- I am more than willing to fight to the last ten CEREBUS fans if it comes to that.

2.  Not much progress to report on the Off-White House Copies, but I did think the other day that what we're going to do is put them in descending order of physical condition.  So if the lowest condition is a VG and there are 20 of them, that's #20.  You will be notified, though, so you can pass if you only want mint or near mint copies.  Jeff Seiler, by the way, is first in line for a lower number if anyone wants to pass on ANY copies they're entitled to.  Nice to hear from you,  Jeff!

Anyway, let me try to convey -- again -- what I see as the really remarkable and totally unprecedented thing fewer than 300 hardcore CEREBUS fan/collectors are accomplishing here.  I mean, this minute. Today. 13 February 2015.  I'm still gobsmacked as it slowly sinks in:

3.  We -- Oliver Simonsen and all of us Legion of Substitute Simonsens -- are making a full-blown 3D movie, a good chunk of which is already done, and which is 100% Creator Driven.

We're keeping all available channels open to TT (aside to TT: as always feel free to use or delete any of this in keeping all of your investor colleagues in the loop. And PLEASE translate it into functional Hollywoodese where necessary.  i.e. Is it still called an "elevator pitch"? If it's called something else now, please call it that. Thanks!) and potential investors and players like Dede Gardner (see last week's Update).  We're not at all anti-movie business or anti-Hollywood or anti-investor, but from Oliver on out, it is the individual volunteer creators who are driving this particular bus.  That's why I said that I thought a conference call was WAY premature.  All I could foresee was "Okay, what do you want for the rights to CEREBUS?" And me saying, "The rights to CEREBUS aren't for sale."  End of conference call, getting all of us nowhere.

Once I started pitching in creatively, everyone started looking at me.  I have the veto, so it's my movie, right?  And what I've been saying through Oliver is:

It's just a theory. I'm a non-film guy so it's an uneducated theory, but it is my theory that the reason CITIZEN KANE is still regarded as the greatest movie ever made is because it's pretty much, top to bottom, 100% Showboating.  Everything about that film calls attention to itself.  Check THIS out! It pulls out all the stops.

So my -- largely NON-instructions to everyone working on the film and looking to me for guidelines is: ACTIVELY Showboat. Antony B:  You do titles for a LIVING so? Do titles that blow every other titles ever done out of the water.  Do titles that will make every other title guys and girl out there drool with envy.  John E.: You're modelling The Sanctuary, which pretty much follows right on the heels of Antony's titles.  The audience has just watched a virtuoso display of movie titles, so your job is to do modelling that blows Antony's titles out of the water if you can manage it.

And (CENTRAL point to my uneducated film theories) there is no deadline.  No one's going to call a Monday morning meeting and say "Yeah, I know we said you had a month but the studio's pulling in the reins so you only have a week."  On CEREBUS: FRACTURED DESTINY whatever it is that you're doing, you don't let go of it until you're ready to let go of it.

4.  Which brings me to the Brad Pitt movie poster and an apology.

[let me interrupt myself to say that if it wasn't for Susan Alston, authoress of the forthcoming -- I'm guessing VERY forthcoming :) -- DAVE SIM's LAST GIRLFRIEND (August 20 1994 to February 15 1998) -- we wouldn't be talking about this.  World's Biggest Brad Pitt fan.  Nicest birthday present I ever bought her was an autographed picture of Brad Pitt. Saw him for the first time in THELMA AND LOUISE which she owned.  "Oh, James Dean. The ladies have been waiting for him to come back for a while."  He could actually act. An understatement.  He's like James Dean AND Brando.  Then SEVEN.  The "What's in the box." scene.  I got chills.  TWELVE MONKEYS.  OCEANS ELEVEN. TROY. Yessir.] [I digress]

I was serious when I said I said to myself "You might not want to do that [mention Brad Pitt]".  It set up an "either/or" I should never have allowed to happen:  I could either look as if I was ignoring one of Oliver's primary potential investor (as a newcomer on Oliver's movie) or I could find myself WAY further down on a track I definitely didn't want to "back into".  But, having backed myself into it, I definitely needed to give it serious consideration.  And immediately.  Which I did.

It really cuts to the heart of the weird way we're doing this once-in-a-lifetime thing.  We're making the movie pretty much backwards.  The voices will be among the LAST things finalized.  Years from now.  But, definitely, with the BENJAMIN BUTTON performance to go by, Brad Pitt was my top pick.  A no-brainer.  All of his movies make money and all of his performances get critical raves.  I can't think of another working actor whose performances regularly chart either "as high" or "higher" than the movies that he's in.  Historically, as someone who reads way more movie reviews than sees movies, the only actors in that category are Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson.

And there's a core problem to the movie, structurally, as I'm picturing it.  As I said last week, the "elevator pitch" which I'm still slicing and dicing is:
"It's EAT PRAY LOVE meets MY DINNER WITH ANDRE about a genocidal cartoon aardvark".

Surreal doesn't begin to describe that elevator pitch.  As Hunter S. Thompson said, "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro".  You have to really be completely up-front about it.  In Hollywood 3D animation means kids movie. Period. You can't take the SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS poster and put the CEREBUS cast in it and then make EAT PRAY LOVE meets MY DINNER WITH ANDRE and expect to come out of your Friday opening in one piece.  You have to tackle it head-on.  Which is why I did the poster speciality drawing that I did (which, hopefully, Sean has posted or will post around here somewhere).  It's basically a parody of the "CONTROVERSIAL" Italian poster for 12 YEARS A SLAVE which I only knew about because the NATIONAL POST did an article on it. Controversial because the poster had a big picture of Brad Pitt, a white guy, and a little picture of Chiwetel Ejiofor, the movie's titular slave.  Which, when I read it, my reaction was a) Oh, come ON! and b) Well, there goes Brad Pitt's O*c*r that he deserved for BENJAMIN BUTTON.  And then later c) Oh, hey, he WON? OKAY! Maybe we're not as crazy as a society as I think we are most of the time.

So, I thought, well, okay. That's pretty esoteric but I think it's safe to say that you have to be a REALLY devoted movie person to go to movie theatres anymore with the size of widescreen TV's and the availability of Netflix.  So, the odds are you'll probably get it.  And do a double take.  Waitaminute.  That's the....controversial Italian movie poster for 12 YEARS A SLAVE.  No, it isn't.  Yes, it is.  But it's a...cartoon.  Why...why...would a CARTOON have a big picture of Brad Pitt on it?

You ready?

Because he does ALL the male voices!

Sorry, this is the sort of stuff that happens when you work on a movie poster parody for roughly nine hours.  You have a LOT of time to "blue sky" things.

And, just to jump ahead, no the poster isn't going to be a Bonus Print.  I don't want to muddy the waters of what is a very sincere apology and a peace-offering for my blundering into a situation I shouldn't have blundered into.  I hope he likes it. I hope he thinks it's funny. I hope Dede Gardner likes hers. I know TT already likes his. It's part of the discussion of what we're doing here in the sense that if Brad Pitt isn't interested -- after reading the CEREBUS and GOING HOME trades I've sent him -- this is still a structural thing that I think Oliver needs to take seriously so we can gently but firmly jolt everyone away from thinking CEREBUS:FRACTURED DESTINY will make a good two-hour babysitter for the kids on summer break.  I'm hoping to keep it to a PG rating at the worst.  But, it's a lot closer to EAT PRAY LOVE than to the LEGO MOVIE.  So the poster has to be -- like virtually every aspect of the production so far -- Completely Unheard Of.  No one ever did this before and no one ever will again.

Whoever The Actor turns out to be (and I've got three other names here, two white actors and one black actor who will remain NAMELESS having learned me a hard lesson) he gets a big portrait at the top of the poster right under his name and there's the little CEREBUS graphic at the bottom (and no, I don't think it's racist to put Cerebus in place of Chiwetel Ejiofor: remember, the aardvark is an African mammal. YO!)

Next "Unheard Of" uneducated Dave Sim filmmaking theory: Actors know better than directors or producers most of the time which source material scenes to pick.  They never get to pick them.  What they usually have to do (from my reading between the lines of movie reviews) is to fight to get enough clout so that they can keep the scenes they signed on to do from ending up being cut from the script before filming begins.  But -- to reiterate -- Brad Pitt is in movies that always make money and his performance is always rated as high or higher than the film that he's in.  From that I infer that he knows what is going to work and what isn't going to work.  "I can play the hell out of this.  And this. And this. And this."

CEREBUS: FRACTURED DESTINY is, structurally, about 70% flashbacks and we've got roughly five thousand pages of source material to pick from.  It's Unheard Of, but doesn't it Make Sense to...

-- if he's interested -- we're "blue-skying" here --

have Brad Pitt pick the flashback scenes based on "I can get all of the ball on this one and 100% guarantee you, take this one to the bank, that I can plant it eight rows up in the third deck in straightaway centre field".  If he's interested -- man, I'll get OUT Of The Way of THAT.  Give me a top ten list or top twenty list and I'll find a way to shoehorn them in.  Are you kidding me?  And again, there is no time constraint.  This is a Zero Stress production.  Not "low stress", Zero Stress.  If he wants to just read CEREBUS and GOING HOME, I'll work the story around whatever he picks.  He wants to read everything...uh, I can get the books wholesale!  I know the guy who publishes them! Personally!  That seems to me a totally rational CITIZEN KANE offer to make.  We're off the dial already when it comes to unorthodox.  The weird have turned pro!

Two final Unheard Of's and I'll run along back to the CEREBUS salt mines:

I'm on the third day of working on the poster and I go, "Wait a minute.  The whole point of the framing sequence is that Cerebus is trying to intimidate 'Foy'.  He's in full-bore Monster mode.  And she isn't intimidated.  WHERE are you going to find a voice actress who ISN'T going to sound intimidated playing opposite Brad Pitt BEING intimidating?"

About thirty seconds later. DUH. Angelina Jolie.  My mind is a playground.  What if she did all of the FEMALE voices?  Brad Pitt as Cerebus and Angelina Jolie as the Regency Elf.  Brad Pitt as Lord Julius and Angelina Jolie as Astoria.  Brad Pitt as Cerebus and Angelina Jolie as Red Sophia AND Mrs. Henrot-Gutch in the same scene.  I'd pay to see that...and I'm pretty sure Oliver can get me on the guest list. I mean, seriously. Cross referencing their picks.  Any scene that's on both lists near the top is in!

I wish I'd thought of Angelina Jolie before I started the poster.  If she wants one of her own, I'll be glad to do one, TT!

Final Unheard Of!

I'm soliciting input as well on an "Oliver's Movie" storypoint/emphasis.  Oliver is really "leaning on" the opening pages of CEREBUS No.1.  "He came to our city in the early dawn blah blah blah".  Which works for me big time: a definitive link between the movie and the opening of the first graphic novel?  Comic store Tpb Sales Magic Time. So we need the text piece itself to be called something as The Earliest Written Record of Cerebus in Estarcion (1385 if I'm remembering Alexx Kaye's timeline accurately).  We need to call the actual parchment fragment or Rosetta Stone or Dead Sea Scroll or whatever it is...something.  Something historically...catchy and authentic the Codex Sinaiticus or Codex Alexandricus (both 4th and 5th century translations of the Septuagint).  We're going to want Antony -- if he's up for it -- to really go to town on the ancient writing so we need a good Greek or Latin sounding name that makes everyone in the theatre go "WOOOooooOOOOOO".

Okay, my Kitchener-Wilmot Hydro bill came in yesterday -- last month it was $250 and this month it's $330.  A sure sign that it is definitely 2015.  So, it's back to the salt mines for me.

Hope to see you all back here for the Kickstarter launch next week (God willing) (or the week after if we're being a little too optimistic about our efficiency :)


Jeff Seiler said...

Dear Dave,

A few comments and questions:

First--How about some combination of the following, based on taxonomy, with (of course) the word Codex preceding:

(Superorder) Afrotheria; (Order) Tubulidentata; (Family) Orycteropodidae; (Genus) Orycteropus; (Normally referred to as) Orycteropus Afer.

Since these taxonomic terms are somewhat (!) esoteric, and since the examples you gave certainly bore resemblance to the city names we now know, how 'bouts:

Codex Orycterocerebus (pronounced phonetically as: Oh-rick-tur-oh-youknowtherest).

Eh? Eh? Whaddaya think? Not bad for an only halfway-clever non-Hollywood boy, eh?

(Source: Wikipedia. So ... you know.)

So, Dave, when do I get my No-Prize?

Secondly: I'm calling him out now. Brad? I will gladly tho' down witchu anytime, any place, to win and retain the role of Elrod.

Just sayin'. We're both Missouri boys from back in the day. Bring it.

Third: Dave, glad I get to be first in line for purchasing cast off Off-White House copies of back issues, but I'm unclear on two things. Does that mean that the first such possible issues are in the worst condition or the best? And, is that a one-time only thing, or do I get the first shot at castaways every time?

Lastly (for now, anyway), I think having one actor do all of the male voices and one actress do all of the female voices the least...a stretch. If not ridiculous.

But, I suspect you know that and are just having some fun with this, it being still so far out from completion.

Besides, if I had my druthers, for Jaka (for me, anyway), it's always been Gwynneth Paltrow.

Okay, that's it for now. UPS tracking says my CANT package of portfolios numbers 121 and 301 (duh!) are in Minneapolis and will be delivered today.


Thanks and, as always, I remain

Your's beyond #301.

PS: As I was just now proofing this post, I heard the UPS guy at the door!

It's Christmas in February!

Jeff Seiler said...

OMG! I can't believe I just mis-used the apostrophe at the end there.

Me! The Punctuation Punk!

(Superhero name copyright, me, 2015)

Shoulda been: "Yours beyond #301."

Jeff Seiler said...

Oh, and, yes, looking back at your post, Dave (and all others who might wish to pick nits):

I wrote that the Codex references were to cities, but in looking back, I realize that the first one refers to what, today, is known as the Sinai Peninsula and that the second one refers to the city of Alexandria, Egypt.

Always-trying-to-get-it-right Lad, signing off.

JLH said...

"Silverspoon" was done during "Church & State"? I always thought it was concurrent to where it takes place, in book one. I could've sworn I heard it was published in 1980, years prior to even High Society.

Travis Pelkie said...

Yeah, wasn't Silverspoon done as ads for CBG (or something) around the time of issues 16-18 or something?

Anyway, shouldn't the "codex" be something like "from the writings of Suenteus Po"?

And the Fantagraphics Prince Valiant books aren't in b&w?

Steve said...

I agree on the comments about Silverspoon. Chronologically I believe it fits between issues 13 and 14 and it did originally appear in The Comics Buyers Guide.

Hopefully Dave can clarify how he fits it into Church and State, where it ill belongs.

Will Collier said...

Got my CANT delivery in yesterday... Haven't had a chance to go through the main portfolio yet, but the bonus prints look great. Thanks to John for the smart packing job (and the stickers!).

Regarding CAN3... I have to say in all honesty I'm not wild about the idea of 9/10ths being Silverspoon pages. I liked the Hal Foster parody work as much as anybody, but (a) I agree with posters above that it's out of place as part of Church & State from a narrative standpoint, and (b) #52 was my first issue, dammit, and I was looking forward to a print of the "Three Guys In The Woods" page from that one...

Sean M Robinson said...

Hey everyone

Dave is referring to silverspoon's appearances in issue 52. The portfolio is half of issue 52, in fact. Will be putting together the preview images for it on Monday, and illustrating the notes with Hal Foster art as soon as they arrive :) (btw, the Fanta Valiant series is full color)

Will Collier said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Will Collier said...

Ah, The Insecure Sinecure. Okay, that makes perfect sense. Thanks, Sean.

On another note, Dave is obviously having a whole lot of fun with the movie right now, which all by itself is great to see...

Galvy said...

I'm laughing really, really hard imagining the possibility that this actually happens. Not in a snide way! In a genuine, gobsmacked by the bizarre nature of the universe sort of way. The fact that this may actually happen, being made backwards, independently, in TODAY's film market, with modern fandom, WITH Dave involved, and maybe starring Brad freaking Pitt? It's like we're in the Twilight Zone, or something. A version of the Twilight Zone where insane good things happen sometimes. Sliders? Fuck, I dunno.

Fingers crossed. Giggling to myself over the possibility that Brad asks for the rest of the trades, then nobody on the production hears from him for a month, then suddenly he signs on and the internet loses its collective mind.

The funny thing is, I actually think Mel Gibson would be a better Cerebus (perfect, actually). Can you even fucking imagine the sheer tidal wave of rage and snark from the fan community/entertainment press? Then, even better, the movie turns out great and makes a ton of money?

I dare not dream the impossible dream. But it's so freaking enticing...

JLH said...

@Sean Thanks for clarifying! I'd forgotten that part of C&S.

@Galvy Mel Gibson would be a very good Cerebus. After all, he was in the movie adaptation of Dave's "The Beavers".*

*Or the unrelated "The Beaver", whatever.

Travis Pelkie said...

Y'know, I remembered during the day that Prince Valiant is/was a Sunday strip and therefore would be reprinted in color. D'oh!

Good lord, Mel Gibson is probably one of the few actors whose involvement with Cerebus would overshadow any commentary about Dave's personal views. Of course, he wouldn't be involved, cuz Dave also considers himself Jewish, right? ;)

Now, obviously, in re Brad Pitt, Dave either takes the first 2 rules seriously, or has never seen Fight Club, another fine Pitt performance. That's one Dave actually probably would like, with its examination of how men's lives have been affected in the last 50 years. I also think the movie is better than the book, because while pretty much every good part from the book is in the movie nearly intact, the flow of the movie is such that it works much better. Maybe screenwriter Jim Uhls could edit a decent script out of a bunch of Cerebus stories?

As to that movie poster being controversial, I'd say if it was used in the US, that'd be pushing things, as it's a story about a key part of American history, and it's not primarily a story about a white guy. Whereas in Italy, perhaps they aren't as familiar with US history and need to be sold more on BRAD PITT being in the movie than the story, which seems a reasonable enough choice to prominently include him in the poster (even though he's not in the movie all that much, from what I understand).

Anonymous said...

Was anyone ever "thinking Cerebus: Fractured Destiny will make a good two-hour babysitter for the kids on summer break"? Shake your heads, guys.

-- Damian T. Lloyd, nme

iestyn said...

It's really weird seeing Cerebus cross-hatched and noted toned...

Jeff Seiler said...

Oh, wow, ur right, iestyn!

Guess the Letratone really is all gone now.

End of an era...