Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Revisionist Pop Culture

Allow me to let you in on a secret: the more a geek picks apart a movie, chances are the more he likes it. If he complains about the minutiae of 'errors' he's seen in a movie (like the color of a helmet is wrong, for example), the more he loved the rest of it. We geeks live in the realm of imagination- and really, can anything compare to our imaginations? So often, what reality presents us is often far inferior to that which our imaginations prepared us for. But, if the only thing we can complain about is the most minor of details, then we love beyond reason the item as a whole (be it movie, book, TV series, etc.), and consider it sacred.

But, here's the rub: no matter how much we love some genre gem, no matter how often we sing its praises, no matter how fiercely we defend it against its many critics and detractors, I think we all secretly know how to make it better. Filmmakers, writers, and artists have all opened our eyes to these new realms; our own passions for them have taken them into our hearts; our own egos have made us believe we understand them better than everyone else. If you look around the internet, you will find thousands of websites dedicated to TV shows, movies, books, and so on. A great many of these sites will often contain what's known as 'fanfic'- fan-created fiction starring the characters and settings of these well-known movies and books and TV shows. (And lest you think this is limited to geek-friendly stuff like Star Wars and Star Trek, think of a favorite TV show. Pick two characters on it you think should be a couple. If you've ever imagined what that episode would look like, you've just 'written' fanfic. See, we're all geeks in our own way.) The best of these stories will feel like they fit seamlessly into the 'official' reality. But, they're no more valid than your average Yankee fan's daydreams of another World Series win. However, that doesn't mean they aren't valid. It's one way to give fans a deeper connection to the things they love- it makes them feel like they've contributed to their beloved movie (or book, or whatever) and in a way, given them a kind of ownership over some small part of that fictional reality.

This whole idea goes back towards my earlier posts about world-building. In this case, though, it's building upon the works of others. Or to put it simply, it's playing in someone else's sandbox. Sure, you can use their toys, and maybe make some fun stuff with them, but at the end of the day, it's still their sandbox. The beauty of this type of playing is that there's an instant common ground for you and anyone else familiar with the subject. You can use a shorthand to describe the circumstances of your story, because your audience is already familiar with the groundwork. This makes your stories/art/whatever that much easier to approach as well, since you didn't have to create everything in it from whole cloth. It's kinda like creativity for lazy people. Which I'm okay with.

WHICH, in a big roundabout way of approaching it, intros this picture. See, back in the later part of the 80's, this awesome little movie came out called The Monster Squad. It was a group of kids versus the Universal Monsters- what's not to love? It instantly endeared itself to me, making me smile and laugh every time I saw it- it even had a prime piece of real estate on a videotape, right next to Big Trouble in Little China and Buckaroo Banzai. Not to mention quotability (a true barometer of a film's geek cred- how many quotes can you get from a movie?)- many lines from this movie are still heard today... when I'm speaking, at least. The film itself went out of print years ago, but I remember it fondly, and often thought how cool it would be to see it again. Recently it came out on DVD and I had the chance to watch it again. It hardly had the same appeal for me as it did back in the day (though it's still plenty fun in its way), but there was plenty there to get my mental gears moving again. I thought to myself, 'hey, this would be great to remake this movie- but here's a bunch of stuff I'd change! You know why I'd change it? Because I know how to make it better.' Sure, it was fun back then, but boy, it would be awesome now!... I think you get the picture.

Basically, the idea to reimagine The Monster Squad would be to bring it current- use kids who behaved like kids in today's world (no Fonzie-looking punk kids looking bad-ass on a bicycle, sorry) and to make the plot a little more logical. Or at least as logical as a bunch of monsters getting together to smash a magical amulet and taking over the world. Hey, it's not my world, I just spend time in it.

This picture is of Rudy, the ex-Fonzie-looking punk. I'm not sure where this idea for this new look came from, other than it was fully-formed when it came to mind. It would probably look kinda nice if it were colored; maybe next time around. My original thought for this fictional remake was to make the kids older teenagers. But, since teens these days are a lot more savvy to the ways of the world, I don't really see a need to do that. Rudy'd probably be about 16 though.

Okay, seriously, that was a hell of a lot of writing for one sketch.

Still no list of influences though. Sorry.

I'm almost out of already-scanned sketches, which means I've got a lot of work to do- but all good work, especially as I'm getting more proficient with Photoshop. It's getting harder to NOT post something that's been colored and messed-with. That's good, though.

That's all for now. Speak at you later!

Music: "Stronger" - Kanye West

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