If you ever have most of a lifetime to waste, go on the internet and look up quotes on cooperation.
Go on, I won’t wait for you as you may never be heard from again.
There are literally millions of quotes from this person or that and they all mean the same: “Get along or get lost.”
I am not going to go into what’s happening in the world today. As we all know, it’s frustrating to watch.
But you are in luck, as you subscribe to this blog. Why? Because I’m not only going write about how to achieve amazing results due to cooperation, but offer proof of these results as well.
When the internet was new…
Years ago, when the internet was new, those of us early pioneers sat there and felt like we’d been taken to a whole new dimension – where we could travel the world and actually be part of any place in any country by just signing in. And for the most part, that was true. I remember looking up a make-up shop I’d heard about at a trade show that was in New Zealand. With the World Wide Web I not only “visited” the shop, but had an email exchange with the owners. Later on, these same people were a big part of the Lord or the Rings films.
I still hear from them once in a while. I actually met them at a comic con a few years ago, and it was like we had hung out many times before. And we had… but only virtually.
Now, what if I could take something like this and make it truly real?
I saw so much potential in this new way to communicate. I saw so much potential that I decided to try the craziest idea ever. Time to literally get real. I was going to do a comic book that involved getting stories from Bubba fans from around the world and then finding artists on the web that could draw them without ever meeting the writer outside of e-mails. Further instructions would be from me or all of us using rudimentary chat areas.
Everyone I told this idea to – from publishers to other friends in the field – told me it was never going to work. They argued that the artists needed hands-on direction and would make mistakes that would push publication back or not at all. The artists reasoned that getting proper scans and their art handled correctly because of all the various formats from other countries would cause grief. And of course, the publishers just took bets I’d never do it in the first place.
I not only I did it, but a star was born form this internet “big bang.” I called the comic, “The ‘Fan powered’ issue.” It was tough, but I figured some things out and did it with several folks from England, South America and right here in the US of A.
First, I needed to figure out a common art platform that we could all get our hands on and then use to transfer art and writing files back and forth. By the way, FTP was still the only way to get files across, and it could take entire days to get a few images in and corrected.
The writing was a bit easier, as we all had Word, or Word Perfect or Notepad. The fonts and word balloons and lettering were done by either me or one of the artists who knew Adobe Illustrator or had a few generic word balloon programs that were freeware and could be shared. And there is the key word I want to pivot this on: share.
We cooperated, shared info and knowledge, and pulled off the first truly international indie comic project ever.
And our star I mentioned? It was Rob Guillory, who went on to win an Eisner Award for his art on Chew. It was his work on Bubba, though, that got the attention of other publishers.
The other writers and artists went on to do projects in their home countries, and several went on to do animation and writing for others.
The best thing is that everyone involved learned, improved, and used the experience to go further and, in some cases, create their own later-famous concepts. Like the make-up folks, a few of us still keep in touch or see one another at shows.
With the new projects I’m working on possibly being produced internationally, this background was instrumental to presenting new way of doing film. What can I say? I like reinvention and pushing the envelope.
Bubba was a small indie comic, then became a film that went global and was even redubbed. Not subtitled but dubbed into German. The fact that I was the one behind the project, and arranged everything for the film, and hired the talent was what a hands-on executive producer is supposed to do.
I get involved in every level of any project I do, as I am responsible for the end result and I will bust my ass to make it work. Now, I’ve been put in contact with people who are exactly the same in attitude and talent.
Between us, a brand-new filming and distribution system is what should be coming in the next couple of years. Bubba was the test pilot for this new and streamlined way of creating and supplying content for theaters, streaming and whatever else may come. I’ll be keeping you all updated as much as I’m allowed or can. Now, go get that ice cream you deserve for reading this and learning about what cooperation can really achieve.
And now as promised in the last blog. Here is my “No shit… there I was” moment when Bubba gets “Stooge-approved.”
Years ago, when I was an FM radio on-air personality (DJ to us commoners), I had a really funny friend who wanted to get on the air. He had a great voice, music knowledge, and could throw smart-ass comments like a monkey throws poop. Not much difference really…
Anyway, my program director told me if I would train him, the station would give him a chance. It turned out that he was a fast learner and had talent, so he would go on after a few of the weekend folks to start. He did great and actually, I started coming in on weekends, and we wound up hosting a special show that would debut all kinds of new music and performers.
Steve, my friend, got the acting bug and headed off to Los Angeles. He auditioned and got some minor roles, but he met a very lovely person, married her and went to work as an emcee and DJ for corporate events. He also opened a small handyman and painting business on the side and worked mostly in Beverly Hills and Sherwood Oaks. He did work for lots of movie and TV people. But one client who took him on as more a second son was Joan Howard Maurer.
After I quit radio and spent time in the ad agency game writing and producing events and commercials for national campaigns, I finally had enough put away to try to make my own comic book. I took one of my creations, a mean-ass redneck werewolf and decided to put a comedy spin on him after an animation studio wanted to take my horror anthology comic work and make it “funny.” This is a long story for another time…
So, Bubba hit the shelves in 2002 and was a hit. I was invited to a comic show in LA and brought my writer and a good buddy along. While out there, I of course contacted Steve, as we had been e-mail and phone pals for years and told him I was jealous that he got to hang out with Moe’s daughter. She also, by the way, was married to comic artist and film producer Norman Maurer. Their son was a famous animator, but I am sworn to secrecy to not reveal who he is as his name is not his given one. Let’s just say that Jim Henson was really fond of his work…
Steve came to the show and told me that he was taking my comic companions and me out for a special lunch when the show was done that week. So, we had taken a two-day layover to look around Los Angeles and instead of that, I got the dream of a lifetime. We piled into Steve’s SUV, and he drove us to a really beautiful house not far from where the Brady Bunch house was.
We stopped, and I noticed and looked up at a weather vane on the roof of the place. I knew those silhouettes like I knew how to tie my shoelaces. It was the Howard house. And if you didn’t realize this… Moe, Shemp and Curly were brothers. Larry was like an uncle to Moe’s and Shemp’s kids, so here was memorabilia from them all.
Joan was just the sweetest person and welcomed these vagabonds into her home due to my knowing Steve and that we were comic book folks. (And they were always welcome there.)
The afternoon was a whirl of baby pictures of all the brothers along with family photos, behind-the-scenes filming items, and stories. It was just unreal.
Joan went into a room and came out with a comic book. The front cover had the name and some other parts cut away, but she explained why. This comic was a Gold Key The Three Stooges comic that Moe himself had had cut up to put together some advertising flyers he was using for a personal appearance for one of their films. This film was the first appearance of a young actor named Adam West called The Outlaws IS Coming!
It was the real magical moment. She looked at me and said that Steve had given her several Bubba comics and she really loved them. To her, Bubba was good-natured goof who kept trying to win the day, just like the characters the Stooges were. She told me that if her Dad and her uncles were around, they would have loved Bubba, too.
I laughed and said that I guess that Bubba is “Stooge-approved.” She smiled and said we need to put it in writing. She then took out a pen from a drawer and wrote the following on the comic:
“To Bubba’s father – Joan Howard Maurer[,] Moe’s daughter”
I was floored, and she looked at me and said, “You’re probably wondering why I didn’t say ‘good luck’ or ‘break a leg’ or something like that aren’t you?”
I didn’t want to tell her that I was so freaked out at this point that all I could do is stare and think I was holding one of Moe’s personal comic books!
She took my hand and looked directly into my eyes and said in a tough and wise voice, “You don’t need luck, Mitch. You’ve got talent, and it may take time, but if you never quit, your talent will beat anyone’s luck.”
I left there that day with the will to never quit and had a new friend to exchange holiday and birthday cards with, plus the occasional phone call or email. I lost contact with Joan after our mutual friend Steve passed away a few years back. But I was able to convince her to start doing Stooge conventions and meet all the legions of fans, like me, who would love to have her sign a few things or tell wonderful stories of her father and uncles who reinvented slapstick, sound effects, and frenetic comedy. Her husband was an innovator in the entertainment industry, including using early TV to reignite the Stooges and make some pretty funny and goofy full-length films with them.
This is part of why innovation and reinvention are where I’m heading now.
The Stooges and Norman Maurer are responsible for a lot of things that you take for granted.
Sound effects, so the guys would not have to suffer any more real slaps in the face. They learned about copyright and trademark laws the hard way, unfortunately, but made the entertainment world and creators like me more aware. Independent distribution, merchandising and the concept of streaming came from ideas that Maurer and Moe had together.
See? This is all gold born of tin.
Never think your worth is measured by anything but how far your faith in yourself and your talent takes you.
See you all next month! Unless I’m elsewhere in the world prepping to bring a new era of cooperative entertainment and fun.