Friday, 12 December 2014

Weekly Update #61: Headsketch Progress

Hello, everyone!

In the comments last week, Jason Penney has it right about the OWH Copies.  It's a matter of how many of them there are and whether Your Number falls within that quantity.  This was one of those situations that was a "front of the line" program last week (OWH and CAU) -- because I had an interest expressed in managing the program that then fell through -- and is now "back of the line".

I throw it out as an open question: anyone in the Kitchener-Waterloo area interested in doing the (literal) heavy lifting and a lot of "bagging and boarding" of comics on this?  I really go by "get back to me" -- which means by phone or fax or mail "Yes, I'm unemployed/under-employed/this is my idea of a really cool hobby" and then (as Woody Allen put it) "90% of success in life is just showing up." phone 519-576-0610, fax 519-576-0955 mail Box 1674 Station C Kitchener, Ontario Canada N2G 4R2.

1. Progress on the fully-inked Cerebus heads on CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO:  roughly 12 done and 30 to go.

2. CEREBUS: THE MOVIE:  between "No" and "Yes", the Film Festival Option.

1.  The idea of getting a fully inked Cerebus head on the front of the CANT folios seems to have spiked relative to CANO.  At least, I don't remember doing forty of them last time.  This week and next week (and possibly the week after that) this will be occupying the "between noon prayer and afternoon prayer" work slot:  12:30 to 3 pm. I can do either four or five depending on how things go with the materials  (Except for today because I'm, you know, writing this  :).  Interesting to remember that, in doing them on CANO, I seriously degraded one of my Winsor & Newton Series Seven number 2 brushes and then found out that the brushes were no longer available.  THIS time, owing to the outstanding and unexpected generosity of Eddie K, Tim W, Margaret L, David B and others, I was able to just dedicate one brand new brush to the task.  Works like a charm.  Except for the evaporation of the ink during the winter months when "room temperature" is artificially created.  Whether I get four or five done in the period allotted depends on how much "mixing of the stew" I have to do to get the consistency right for big bold brush strokes (of which there are very few in STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND but of which there are "nothing BUT" on a five inch by five inch inked Cerebus head):

The ones done so far:  Thuy N (CAN); Jason P (USA); Daniel E (SWE); Tristan B (FRA); Erik V (NET); Anne J (USA); Margaret L (USA); Bechara H (CAN); David B (USA); Damin T (USA); Dagon J (USA); Jeffrey M (USA); Eddie K (CAN); Dean R (CAN: 2); Mark N (AUS: 2); Richard P (UK); Anwar G (GER); Tim W (UK)

Thanks to everyone!  42 is a LOT of work, but it's also VERY LUCRATIVE work at a time when every nickel counts for all of us!

2.  To clarify the arrangement that I have with Oliver on CEREBUS: THE MOVIE:

I never expected that he would actually get the movie this close to done, so I'm having to do more serious thinking on the subject than I did prior to the DVD coming in the mail.

As I've said already, the answer at the moment is between 95% and 99% "No", but I am working to try to figure out a way to turn that "No" into at least a possible "Maybe".  If you remember from last time, the "No" option would have as its consolation prize of a Farewell Tour of comic-book conventions as a means of recouping some of the investors' money and a certain amount of "off the leash" merchandising. And for Oliver and his people to have their moment in the sun.  Well deserved.

This ties in with my observations on "fanzine movies" that I wrote about last time, using Tim Burton's 1989 BATMAN as an example.  What made it a "fanzine movie" (to me) was that it was obviously a result of the success of Frank's THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS mini-series three years before.  A Known Director with cachet (Tim Burton), to me, read Frank's work and did a Hollywood fanzine version of it.  If I'm recalling correctly, it still wasn't going to get made until Jack Nicholson became interested in playing The Joker (which, I assume, was the result of his friendship with Marlon Brando and seeing Brando's big payday playing Jor-El in SUPERMAN: if Brando can do it and still be Brando, Jack Nicholson can do it and still be Jack Nicholson).  A major "fanzine" difference that, to me, then eroded into "fan fiction" was the decision to make The Joker the guy who killed Bruce Wayne's parents.  "Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?"

The Joker didn't kill Bruce Wayne's parents.  Joe Chill killed Bruce Wayne's parents.

See, to me, as the custodian of Cerebus, that's the kind of thing that I won't allow to be done in CEREBUS: THE MOVIE.  Which, very possibly, makes the movie "un-makeable": it's a graphic novel and can't be successfully "Hollywoodized" without making it, demonstrably, NOT CEREBUS.

I had to look at what Oliver had done and then I had to say, "Okay, IS this CEREBUS?"

Trying to give it the benefit of the doubt, I think it can be MADE into CEREBUS:  something that actually reflects the book itself and is filled with points of identification for the interested CEREBUS fan that actually adds something to the 6,000 pages.  But I might be wrong about that.  I think it's a fact that if you stay as close to the source material as possible while making a good movie, the more successful a movie you have.  If you change the source material appreciably, it doesn't matter how good of a movie you make, it isn't going to be successful.  Already, I'm going back and forth mentally between "IS CEREBUS" and "IS Oliver's movie" -- pulling the latter in the direction of the former (while still using as close to ALL of Oliver's footage as I can manage)...

(Even the dragon.  That was the first thing I faxed Oliver.  Oliver: there's no dragon in Cerebus. Lose the dragon.  Lose the dragon from the music video AND the movie.  No, I think I can even get the dragon in there. With some tweaking. So keep it out of the music video right now)

At some point, we're going to be done:  here, for good or ill, is CEREBUS: THE MOVIE.  There's a very good chance that I'll be so close to it at that point that I won't be able to say "No" or "Yes".  Only "I don't know".  What I picture at that point is Oliver "doing" the Film Festival route.  If he can't get a major film festival to even agree to show it, THAT will tell us something, I think.

One of this week's new releases, Chris Rock's THE TOP FIVE, was (evidently) the big winner at The Toronto Film Festival in terms of getting studio interest.  The figure of $12.5 million was quoted.  That's our level of interest in Film Festivals.  It would be hilarious if we do that just to get a distribution deal and then end up winning a jury prize or something (what the hell are we going to do with THIS?)  -- with NO studio interest.  But, then, I have a strange sense of humour

So (Big If) we go that route and we are able to get funding from a studio to distribute the film and (let's say) it's $6 million then -- as I picture it -- it would be a matter of dividing that amount between Oliver and his crew of volunteer animators and The Cerebus Trust...

(which took a giant step towards realization this morning when I met with my CIBC Financial Advisor and found out that, yes, all of the structure I have in mind is "do-able": more on that over the coming weeks)

...The idea all along is that we're all volunteering on CEREBUS: THE MOVIE.  We all have day jobs, no one is hurting for money (except in that general 2014 way that we're ALL hurting for money), so we can afford to do the movie that we want to do and not have to change anything to fit a studio and/or distributor's whim.  That's the "quid pro quo":  you take the film that Oliver did and then modified under my direction AS IS or you don't get it.

But, I've definitely emphasized to Oliver that he's to keep track of who did what:  how much work they put in and what that work is worth as a percentage of The Big Cheque.  By the time it's all broken down, everyone might get $123.69 out of the $3 million "movie half" (how much is voice acting worth? How much does Oliver pay himself? How much does each animator get for their 15 seconds or 20 seconds of footage? All questions for Oliver and all of which will have to be dealt with PUBLICLY: with the numbers adding up so everyone can see what everyone got) (and not questions for me, Thank God -- I just get half of the money for The Cerebus Trust :)).

I can see as far down the line as that.  It's Extremely Unlikely, but then the fan of a comic book and a bunch of animation volunteers actually getting most of a movie done is Extremely Unlikely, as well. As in: getting hit by a comet while purchasing a $3 million winning lottery ticket Extremely Unlikely.

But, uh, here we are, eh?

If it goes further than that -- if Extremely Unlikely just ends up being the status quo for CEREBUS: THE MOVIE all the way along -- then we get into "So what if it's a hit?"

Oy vey.

Well -- W!E!L!L! -- before that point, the "artistic bookkeeping" rabbit hole would have to be closed off.  Studios are notorious for putting other projects on YOUR bookkeeping so -- surprise surprise -- your movie that cost them $6 million and grosses $800 million turns out not to have made a plugged nickel.

I think that can be done LEGALLY by establishing what the criteria is.  And in that case, I'd suggest allowing the studio to pick whatever website or industry publication or ranking will be the criteria, but that becomes locked in.  If the publicity says the movie made $47 million on its opening weekend then they will be obligated to cut a cheque for a percentage of that.  NO OTHER NUMBERS factored in.  Obviously a smaller percentage, but an actual small percentage of REAL money is better than a huge percentage of FICTITIOUS money. And to have an agreement already signed that that amount has to be paid within 30 days of the announcement of the figure or the studio is deemed to be in default and will have to pay a financial penalty in addition to the figure.

That's a matter of going All The Way Up The Maypole, legally -- with everything notarized and registered with whatever is the highest legal jurisdiction in the vicinity (presumably Los Angeles County) so we have the papers in hand and it's a gun to the studio's head.  If we don't have the certified  cheque for x% in the bank on Day 39, they are now officially 24 hours away from being in default, with their agreement to that over their signatures.  So that it just takes a court clerk to look at it.  "This has already been adjudicated and agreed to, all the t's are crossed and the i's are dotted:  you really need to cut a cheque for [checks the agreed-upon publicized amount, punches in the % on his little calculator] by the end of the business day tomorrow or you are, you know, seriously effed to the tune of $x million on TOP of that amount."

And, at that point, I'm all done thinking about CEREBUS: THE MOVIE, structurally, as a business proposition.  Everything after that is just "due diligence" on building an impregnable "Studio Trap".

Okay -- back to work on THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND.

See you all next week, God willing!


Oliver said...

I have to agree that getting this far on the film is as Dave puts it "Extremely Unlikely, as well. As in: getting hit by a comet while purchasing a $3 million winning lottery ticket Extremely Unlikely.":) Pretty sure it hasn't been done before.

Will Collier said...

If anybody's interested, the "comic shop versions" of CANO are shipping. I got mine in yesterday, from Atomic Empire.

It's very nice stuff. I would have bought it directly from Dave if I'd known about the Kickstarter in time.

Graphic Edge Print Solutions said...

Hi Will,

Thanks for sharing, that's good to know and I'll pass that on to Dave.

My name is John Funk and I manage the Kickstarter campaigns for Dave, as well as printing and fulfillment & shipping for the Cerebus Archive series.

CAN 3 (CEREBUS ARCHIVE Number 3) will launch in the new year, but the exact time is not yet set. CAN(Two) is now in post-funding mode.

If you are a 'brick and mortar' comic retail store, we have a special price of $256 (includes shipping to CAN & USA) and includes 5 portfolios with your option of having them sub-numbered to your store name on the front label.

If you're only interested in a single portfolio, they are $79 plus shipping. See the Kickstarter website:
for details on the most recent one.

If you want more information, please don't hesitate to send me an e-mail at

Thanks for the opportunity to share this.

John Funk

CerebusTV said...

Producer Mike Uslan ("The Boy Who Loved Batman") was/is the moving force behind the current Batman films, including Tim Burton's.

DeBT said...

Producing a Cerebus movie would pretty much be an impossibility. However, I'm wondering if making a short-lived HBO series competing with Game of Thrones would be even considered plausible. There would have to be a lot of shifted story elements to be able to make sense of the grandoise and moving goalposts plot. I'm thinking somewhere along the lines of combining the first two books, making High Society the main focus, while showing flashbacks to Cerebus' Barbarian past in between, to show the similarities and contrast between tones.

ChrisW said...

I don't think "Cerebus" is ultimately filmable. I definitely want Oliver and his crew to be rewarded for their efforts [whether I like them or not] and Dave to financially-benefit too. If that's too much to ask, then Oliver and company have "passed the audition" and deserve to get handed a few million dollars to make some other movie/cartoon/clip/music video.

I've been on Oliver's list of people to go-to for years, and I literally only found out a few weeks ago that he'd been sending me regular updates on Facebook. I still haven't watched most of what he's sent me, I still don't care, I can't imagine any way that this movie will be "Cerebus" the way "Cerebus" should be done as a movie.

But I don't oppose the idea, nor do I want Oliver and crew's work to go to waste. As with Cerebus ordering us to vote on the women, angels, devil, vipers or scorpions, I will happily vote 'woman,' if not 'angel.'

The idea of a "Cerebus" movie just isn't what I'm into. On the one-in-a-million chance it becomes successful, Dave will still be in the Eastman/Laird position he's tried to avoid for all these years. And I hope it is successful enough for him to pay the bills for many years to come. I don't know what that says about my loyalty to Dave or "Cerebus," much less Oliver, but creating a movie that people want to see is about the best result I can foresee.

"Cerebus" is unfilmable. There's no way to be true to the comic book that Dave and Ger spent so many years creating. You can take elements from it and make an interesting movie. Someone who's basically a barbarian steals a bunch of treasure, then wanders into a hotel and the next thing he knows, he's become Prime Minister [Coming Soon: "High Society: The Movie"] is a good idea, but you'd have to change so many details that it's easier to just rip the idea off and make it your own, a la "1963."

I'm just not a movie fan. And I say this as someone who still watches "The Avengers" roughly once a month. Characters I never really cared about doing awesome things in a way that thrills me? A Captain America worth saluting? That's worth the price of admission right there. An Iron Man who has many issues that obviously come from his previous movies, but we don't need to know the details as we see his great performance and character arc? A Thor that makes sense? A Loki who is an awesome villain? A Black Widow who is worth watching even if she is an action-chick in tight leather? A Hulk, long teased by tv shows and cartoons, who gives the seven-year old boy in us all the pleasure of a big green monster smashing stuff, the way he should truly be, and the build-up from Dr. Banner too? Why the movie didn't win an Oscar, I'll never know.

You're never going to achieve this with "Cerebus." The whole idea militates against it. You could bring in all 3000 core "Cerebus" fans for their ideas, and you'd have 3000 bad ideas to work with. [Gruff rural boy hooks up with the hot chick he used to know way back when, then they get stuck in a mountain pass during a winter snowstorm and see where their loyalties really lie.]

I vote that the movie goes ahead. If it succeeds, fails or gets killed by executive decisions higher up, I don't care. I hope it succeeds, at least for Oliver, Darryl and Darryl, and hopefully for Dave too. But in my opinion, "Cerebus" is not filmable as a movie.