Once again, for all you crazy, zany refugees from the tyranny of satellite and cable TV, here’s the latest in what’s happening in the wonderful world of cord cutting, from Luke Bourna at CordCuttersNews. FWIW, we found the gearing up of a new “Anti Cord Cutting” movement neither fascinating nor dull but when you get down to it, inevitable:
THE USUAL NOTE FROM LB: From the summer of 2002 to the spring of 2010, Gwen the Beautiful and I were the proud and often exhausted owners of a beautiful Ozarks property we called Cloud Creek Ranch.
In many ways, the ranch was paradise. But it was a paradise with a price that started going up before we even knew it existed. Here’s another Monday musing about our adventure and the lessons we learned.
Oh, and if y’all detect any irony, please believe me when I say it comes straight from the universe and not your kindly Uncle Larry B.
by Larry Brody
Christmas was lonely for me this year. Here I was, in Paradise, on the ranch with the dogs and the cats and the horses and the chickens. And there Gwen the Beautiful was, in San Francisco, with Youngest Daughter Amber. Last year Amber came here to be with us. This year she had too much to do at school. And I had so much to do that I couldn’t leave.
So off went Gwen without me, and we both learned a very important lesson. “Merry Christmas” just doesn’t cut it over the phone.
Some men I know can’t wait for their wives to go off on a trip. That’s when these boys come alive. But when I’m alone I shut down. It’s as though I’m on “pause,” waiting for the “on” button to be pushed. I mean, why knock myself out being me when the person I most want to impress with myself isn’t around?
Luckily, the love of my life made it safely back home before New Year’s, and I was able to come back to life for 2006. I picked her up at the airport last Thursday, and by mid-afternoon we were in the door, where we found a holiday gift waiting.
A magical one, of course. Would Paradise give us any other kind?
What happened was that when Gwen and I entered the house we found ourselves greeted by the most perfect of Christmas tree smells. A green, crackly scent, sharp and tangy.
Gwen smiled. Went to the Christmas tree alongside the stairs. Sniffed at it. Smiled again. She touched the tree and shook her head. Turned to me.
“How’d you do it?” she said.
“This is the same tree we put up before I left, isn’t it?” said Gwen. “The artificial one we decided to use because there wasn’t any point in going through the hassle of a real tree when I wasn’t going to be here?”
“Sure,” I said. “That’s the Wal-Mart special. Why?”
Another Gwen smile. “That’s my question. Why the scent? What I don’t like about artificial trees is that no matter how real they look you know they’re fake because you don’t get the smell of pine. Except we’re getting that smell right now, right here. I love it, and I’m thrilled. So c’mon, sweetie, tell me – how’d you do this?”
I thought about it. Realized that the pine aroma hadn’t been there while Gwen was gone. Hadn’t been there when I’d left to pick her up in the morning. Had no reason to be there then. Or now. I sure hadn’t done anything to bring it about. No room freshener. No scented spray.
“Seems to me like the house missed you as much as I did,” I said. “Everything around here missed you. You’re being given a gift. It’s time to give thanks and enjoy.”
Gwen laughed. She turned her head up toward the ceiling, where we always hear the various ghosts I’ve written about before.
“Thanks,” she said, meaning it. “I’m definitely enjoying.”
We waited until New Year’s Eve to exchange Christmas gifts, turning back the clock a full week.
I did all my shopping online this year, and everything arrived wrapped and ready. One of the gifts, however, turned out to be as unexpected as the scent of the tree.
When Gwen opened a small box that was supposed to contain a silver necklace I saw immediately that it was the wrong one. Instead of a pendant, attached to the chain was a small, graceful, sweetly tinkling silver bell.
About five years ago Gwen and I had talked about getting her something very much like this, but we’d never found the right one. Now it was here, unbidden. But not unwanted, nor unloved.
“You got me the bell!” Gwen said.
“Um…well, something did,” was all I could say.
“Bells help the universe keep track of our spirits,” said Gwen. “They announce our souls.” She wrapped her arms around me, and we kissed…to the tinkling of the little bell.
As I write this I can still smell the pine and hear the silver bell. And all I can think is:
Gwen the Beautiful is home. All’s right with the universe. I know because it’s telling me.
Happy New Year, y’all! May this one be the absolute best. (And the next ones be better still.)
In a world where spells and potions are commonplace, a young woman named Tracy Buckles is struck by a despicable curse that prevents other people from hearing her voice.
She joins forces with a nameless drifter and a bumbling wizard in order to break free from the evil sorcery. With a dynamic female lead, plenty of irreverent humor and a sprinkle of magic, TRACY BUCKLES tells an epic story across six fast-paced episodes.
Robin Nystrom, the multitalented writer/director/producer of one of our favorite web series, NicoLife, has a new show for us all to see – and it’s even better than what came before.
Taking advantage of Robin’s varied skills, we asked him to tell us all about Tracy Buckles. Specifically, we were interested in what he, as the creator, wants the show to accomplish, artistically, personally, and professionally. Here’s what he had to say:
by Robin Nystrom
When I wrote and directed Tracy Buckles, I set out to accomplish three things.
First, I wanted to craft a comedy web series with fantastical storytelling elements.
At the age of seven, I discovered a paperback copy of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring in my elementary school library. Ever since then, I’ve been hooked on the fantasy genre. I was dying to create a world of my own where spells, potions and curses can be as commonplace as toasters and televisions are in our own reality.
Second, I wanted to devise a story with a dynamic, kick-ass female lead.
The qualities I hope our audience will recognize in Tracy is that she is brave and headstrong and impulsive. Those are some of the characteristics that I’ve often found in the women I look up to in my life.
Third, I wanted to tell a complete narrative with strong thematic resonance over six fast-paced episodes.
In Chapter 2, our protagonist Tracy meets a nameless drifter called No One who is plagued by a curse of invisibility. Tracy and No One form an immediate friendship, because they both understand the pain of not being seen or heard.
I think we’ve all felt that struggle in one way or another — the pain of not being listened to or of being misunderstood. I know I have. I hope that people find that theme to be strong enough to carry our web series through to the end.
I intend to use this web series as a springboard for my future endeavors as a filmmaker. I hope we can spread the show far and wide and that we can connect with viewers who like the kind of stories that I love to tell.
In late 2018, we brought Tracy Buckles to ten film festivals all over the world, and I’ve already had the chance to meet other filmmakers and hear their feedback on the project. I hope that dialogue will continue as our audience grows.
Looking ahead, beyond this particular project, I am also hard at work with a feature length screenplay. My dream future would be that I could go full-time with writing and directing my own screenplays.
Watch Tracy Buckles:
On Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/album/
On the official Tracy Buckles website: https://www.tracybuckles.com
See the 30-second trailer: http://vimeo.com/tracybuckles/
TRACY BUCKLES has been screened in 10 film festivals, including LA Film Festival, iTVFest, NYC WebFest and Dances with Films.
During its festival run, the show won three awards:
Best Produced Series,
Best Young Adult Series, and
Best Actress in a Web Series.
The show was nominated for ten awards, including:
Best Series Director,
Best Sci-Fi Fantasy,
Best Representation of Women,
Best Comedic Performance, and
Best Overall Web Series.
Oh, and you can read about Robin’s earlier series, NicoLife, here: https://tvwriter.com/?p=31326
Not bad, yeah?
Happy Monday everybody!
Hope you’ve had a great weekend. It’s time now for TVWriter™’s latest look at our most popular blog posts of the week ending yesterday. They are:
And our most visited permanent resource pages of the week are:
Big thanks to everybody for helping us have another terrific week at TVWriter™ . Don’t forget to click above and read what you missed and re-read what you loved!
And now, the much-awaited finale:
by Gerry Conway
The superhero comic book business is in a death spiral, and everyone in the business seems to know it. A crisis as serious as this cannot be addressed by fixes at the margins. We need a fundamental break with the business practices that have brought the companies to this point. A radical solution to a radical crisis.
Both Marvel and DC need to redefine themselves as creative entities. What is their CORE purpose? What is their CORE contribution to the larger enterprise of creating superhero mythology for mainstream media?
Is their core purpose publishing paper pamphlets for sale to a small readership of tens of thousands? Or is their core contribution creating stories and characters in comic book format that can be transformed into other forms of media?
If it’s the first, their business is a dead end, and nothing they do will extend its existence past the next few years. The direct sale market is dying. There’s no time to develop other methods of distribution to profitably replace it. The publishers have tried expanding into bookstores, which, like the comic book stores, are dying. They’ve tried expanding into big box stores like Walmart, but that experiment seems to have failed. They’ve sought sales in digital format, but judging by reports of my own sales in that medium, it’s not a panacea– yet. Traditional comic book publishing for profit by the Big Two seems hopeless, by all the available evidence, at least as presently constituted. Maybe, if both companies scaled back overhead and production to 1967 levels– Marvel producing 12 books a month with a small office and a skeleton staff, DC producing 30 with a slightly larger editorial footprint– they might survive as pure publishing entities.
But survival shouldn’t be a goal.
Instead, I suggest both Marvel and DC dramatically redefine themselves as creators of comic book content first– and profitable publishers second, if at all.
One advantage both companies have as corporate subsidiaries that they never had as independent family businesses is something they need to embrace and promote to their corporate masters as a positive principle– neither company needs to turn a profit, at least not in the short term, and not as publishers. Instead they should redefine themselves primarily, in the modern lexicon, as IP creators. Intellectual Property is one of the most important drivers of modern corporate media success– if not the most crucial component. Comic book publishers are easily the most cost effective creators of IP in modern media. For a media corporation to require profitability of an IP generator like a comic book publisher, when even the highest levels of publishing profitability pale beside the far greater value of the IP itself, isn’t just short-sighted, it’s counterproductive and self defeating.
Marvel and DC should see themselves primarily, if not solely, as IP generators, and sell themselves to Disney and Warnermedia as such. Publishing should be the tail of the dog; the dog is creation.
If the companies do follow this path, they’ll also need to radically rethink their approach to publishing– ironically, with potential benefit both to themselves as profitable enterprises and to their customers in the direct market.
For example, if your goal as a company is no longer to increase or maintain market share in the direct market, but instead to generate exciting and long-term potential IP, you don’t need predatory publishing practices like variant covers, or twice-yearly “events,” or extortionate pricing, or required pre-orders. You could even begin to accept returns, lightening the financial pressures on dealers and encouraging them to risk new series. You could reduce the number of unnecessary spin-offs and reboots. You could devote energy to nurturing creatives and long-term storylines.
At one point in the mid 1970s I had a dust up with Marvel’s production chief, the late John Verpoorten. I was complaining that a revision to the production schedule would negatively affect the aesthetic quality of a book I was writing and how could he justify that (I was young, naive and arrogant). John looked at me and growled, “From an aesthetic point of view we can maybe justify ten of these books.” I was gobsmacked and obviously never forgot his point.
Redefining their core mission as IP generators would allow both Marvel and DC to address John’s point positively: is there an aesthetic reason to publish this story? Does it say something new and valuable about our characters, or is it just an effort to increase market share? Does it add to the mythology, or diminish it? Is it good?
Publishing sales success has rarely been a reliable predictor of a superhero story’s viability in other media. Venom is a popular comic book character with mixed success in sales– but a worldwide hit as a movie antihero. The JLA Detroit era heroes ended ignominiously in a market driven by direct sales, but individually have provided useful source material for CW TV shows. The Green Arrow was never a sales leader in comics. Before the Batman movies, Batman was a mid-level but important DC comic. Deadpool was a popular second string character but again never a sales leader before Ryan Reynolds put on the mask.
There’s a way forward for both the superhero publishers and the direct market– but not if the publishers continue to define themselves first as publishers. That day is past. The publishers will have to be bold if they’re going to thrive in the post-direct market world. The first step is for them to decide what they do best. In my view, what they do best is create comic book stories. Those stories transcend the traditional sales platform that produced them. It’s time for the bird to leave its nest.
Gerry Conway is one of the Kings of TV and film and comic book writing and also one of our Beloved Leader Larry Brody’s longest-lasting and closest friends. Everybody who comes to TVWriter™ should be reading his insightful blog, where this article first appeared. Learn more about Gerry HERE.