OUR TV ADVENTURE, so far-part 3
in June 2007 two tv producers phoned me out of the blue to talk about adapting my Fate of the Artist to the small screen and I found myself having a series of daytime sessions at assorted pubs as we got to know each others’ ideas about what such an adaptation might look like. They were pleasantly surprised to find that Fate was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, and it was suggested that the Snooter in fact showed greater dramatic/comedic potential. One thing we particularly agreed on was that there was scope for a combination of live action and some kind of animation and we talked about the ways this had been done previously. I mean specifically in relation to the cartoonist and his work, the artist seeing his drawings come to life. You have to start with the first, Winsor McCay's Little Nemo of 1911: "The Famous cartoonist of the NY Herald and his moving comics. The first artist to attempt drawing pictures that will move." Even at nearly a hundred years on McCay still charms. And the magic is still persuasive too! I was happily watching for a couple of minutes before it occurred to me that you can't draw with a dip pen on an upright surface.
Then there is the the old 1970 tv show My World and Welcome to it, based on the stories and drawings of James Thurber, with William Windom playing cartoonist John Monroe, which I told the guys about. We went to some trouble to get hold of a copy of the whole series and I wrote about it here. I found the following on Youtube, which I think is the intro to the first half hour show:
It was American Splendor that got the producers thinking about our proposed show in the first place. This image of Pekar walking through a simple drawing of a street (composited for the DVD ?), is among the most expressive things under the ironic 'American Splendor' banner. Pekar's slouch is in perfect harmony with his backdrop
And the movie’s opening credit sequence, borrows the multiple levels of synchronous action possible on a comic book page.
Pekar is played by Actor Paul Giamatti and also by animated drawings, but over and above that Pekar also appears as himself.
In one incident Giamatti as Pekar goes to see a stage play based on Pekar’s comic books, so that the actor playing Pekar on film is watching Pekar played by another actor on stage.
The artist and the artist's drawings-come-to-life. The idea has a long and worthy history. Does Campbell have anything to add to it? I find myself excited by the challenge.
(more to come)