This year’s Free Comic Day has come and gone; but for ardent readers, New Comic Day renews the promise of crazy words and pretty pictures. Your local comic shop looks forward to this weekly ritual too. With the new dose of comic book goodness (and/or awfulness), hitting the shelves, these mostly independent, small businesses anticipate the regular foot traffic that keeps their lights on. It’s this very trash-cultural touchstone that is due to be celebrated in NEW COMIC DAY – an independent feature film by Michael Seminerio and Cris Silvent. By focusing their lens on a dynamic day experienced by lovers of the medium, the movie makers cast a wide net from which to draw their audience. But they’ll need the heroic help of passionate people to make it happen. You, yes you, can save NEW COMIC DAY!
My beautiful & brilliant wife first told me about the film and the effort to raise just over $9K to fund it. Long ago in a galaxy far far away, she worked with Michael Seminerio’s wife and I recall an evening of chatting about movies and superheroes while watching Shakespeare in the Park. From then on, I looked forward to seeing one of Michael’s dream movies. So, I checked out the Kickstarter page for Saturday Pictures’ new production. Up until this point, I only visited a few Kickstarter pages: all raising money for new/final records from my favorite underground bands. But, these projects were either very nearly funded or funded at well over 200%. They didn’t need me. I bought the albums when they released and that was that. Although I love the concept of crowd-funding, I never considered giving money to something owned by a major studio or corporation. It seems a distortion to turn a grassroots effort into a focus group for well-known brands. DJ Wooldridge wrote a great State-Lines article a while back that touched on this topic. Give it a read.
NEW COMIC DAY gave me a different feeling altogether. When you read their plan, watch their video and look at their sketches, you’re compelled to admit, “This could be awesome.” Seminerio & Silvent previously produced the feature film CHRONOLOGIAL ORDER, a time-traveling fable about a man who finds a door floating in the ocean. Their work shows a love for genres and an interest in what makes them tick. If you visit their Facebook page, you’ll find pages of the NEW COMIC DAY script, one posted per day until their Kickstarter campaign ends. They have a killer shooting location booked in the enormous Past Present Furture comic book shop in West Palm Beach. They have a casting call out now for the 18-day shoot, scheduled to begin July 20th. They’ve assembled a crack crew. Yet, this dream movie is still only a dream; for Kickstarter funding is all or nothing after all. If NEW COMIC DAY doesn’t meet its goal by May 24th, then it doesn’t get a dime of the pledged backing. It’s back to square one for Seminerio & Silvent.
My love for comic books was re-ignited in high school when I walked into the now defunct and fondly remembered Dragon’s Lair of Lakeland. It was there that I struck up a long-lasting friendship with its manager Brian Hill (who would later write a story in my anthology SONS & DAUGHTERS). Brian and I spent endless hours talking comics, girls, politics, God, you name it. Quite often, I would help him stock the shelves on “new comic day” just so I could get the first glimpse at the next chapter in BATMAN: “The Long Halloween” or ensure I had my copy of a variant cover by my favorite flavor-of-the-week artist. I fell in love with comic books as I fell in love with comic books shops. The customers were unique. The conversations were strange and wonderful. There was something special about the product sold, with its serialized nature, low price-point and fantastic appeal. Comics shops became a place of joy for me.
But as with everything in our world, corporate interests push comics in the direction of the lowest common denominator. It’s incredibly difficult for comic books shops to sell non-superhero work. Heck, even new superheros or c-list superheros are a hard sell. Indie comics? Get in the back of the line. Indie films? Have fun with that. Around the same time I started to frequent Dragon’s Lair, I read Rick Schmidt’s inspiring book FEATURE FILMMAKING AT USED CAR PRICES. This book blew my mind. But, I never had the guts or the cash (or a legal way to get the cash) to make a genuine Go at it. You would have to be crazy, committing yourself to make something that big, that costly and that time-consuming. Or you would have to be someone with passion. Seminerio & Silvent have that passion. The question is: will the comic book community join them?
One of our greatest living comic book creators, Alan Moore, recently endeavored on making a series of short films under the umbrella name JIMMY’S END. They show off pure and undiluted Alan Moore story-telling and it may take a Kickstarter campaign to see them all come about. While making these short films, he’s continuing work on a novel that will have a higher page count than the Bible, along with more spoken word projects and indie comics. It’s kind of nuts that such an well-established comic book writer would dive into entirely different mediums, experimenting with new things at this point of his career. After all, he could be getting paid handsomely to write issues of AFTER WATCHMEN or (if he was interested in “real movies”) he could write V FOR VENDETTA 2: EVEY’S REVENGE. Why would he take a risk on something completely new? Why would anyone? Why would you assume that there would be an audience there to support you?
Two insightful blog serials just wrapped up, both which bring some perspective. The first was POISONED CHALICE by Pádraig Ó Méalóid over at The Beat. The writer examines every aspect of the Marvelman & Miracleman publishing fiasco. Here you have a comic book that Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman made legendary but is unable to find its way back onto the bookshelves for today’s readers, because no one really knows who owns the character! The second is Steve Bissette’s chronicling of WaP! (Words and Pictures!), a long-forgotten pro-zine published by the likes of Steve Gerber and Frank Miller. Each post made me feel more and more ill upon reading. The comics industry is built on the backs of despised and disposed of creators. Still, the state of creator’s rights in that industry is even worse now than it was when Alan Moore was taking his first stand against DC Comics. Why would you take a risk? Because it’s riskier to give your dream over to someone without the passion of creativity than it is to stick your neck out and do it on your own.
This tangent was brought to you by your local comic book shop, along with all the other brick and mortar record stores, book stores and video stores you used to frequent. Because they are the fiercely independent places where we converse with strangers and wander into fun and even important moments. NEW COMIC DAY can shine a light on the magic in those moments. But, you would have to have a lot of passion to make this movie. Why would its creators assume there will be an audience to support them? Because sometimes fans know they need to see something new and authentic, alongside the corporate sequels which already have their money.
Go to the Saturday Pictures Kickstarter page and back NEW COMIC DAY.
Make a statement with your wallet and support indie artists.
Believe that you are the audience-member this film needs, the one its been waiting for all along.