Monday, November 13, 2006

Mystery Solved... Frank Miller's FIRST Movie...

As long as I'm taking a walk down memory lane, prompted by the New York Times article on Dark Horse's twentieth anniversary, let's peel back the mists of time for another fun fact about "the early days."

As mentioned in my last post, Frank Miller was an early member of Apa-Five, contributing dozens of pages of comics and other material. One of those comic strips was a parody of Spider-Man artist Steve Ditko's doctrinaire (and mostly self-published) "hero" MISTER A. Mister A seemed to erupt from Ditko's well known fascination with Ayn Rand's work, and was seen as an especially eccentric work from the formerly mainstream artist.

As a hero, Mister A went to great pains to explain that there is no moral equivilant of "gray" in this world, only stark black and white. Our moral choices define us forever, and in Mister A's world the penalty for going over to the "black" side was usually quite Draconian. Like, lengthy prison terms or death.

Anyway, Miller did a parody of Ditko's strip which so impressed me that I got his permission to use the story as the basis of my first 16mm student film, MISTER A-1. Shot in glorious black and white (hey, just like SIN CITY!) and starring fellow students, my college buddies and I scraped up enough dough for the raw stock and processing, utilized our school's antiquated equipment (a fifty pound old film news camera that had been donated by one of the local TV stations back in the 60's!) and wound up with 10 minute-ish, sync-sound epic. There were a host of your usual production problems (as I recall, the sound lost sync and we had to jury rig a system for getting it back on the mark), but as a first effort, what the hell, you know? Unfortunately, my cohorts and I were too poor to afford multiple prints, and when our best copy was mangled after an aborted showing at a comic book convention, MISTER A-1 returned to the shelf.

However, that was just a prelude to my next student film, this one shot in glorious color, JOHN BOY MEETS THE TEXAS CHAINSAW KILLER. (No. I'm not kidding.) More on THAT in another post...


Blogger Alan Kellogg said...

When I read stories like yours I realize how fortunate we are that so few college age kids actually vote.

6:16 PM  
Blogger John Goins said...

I've seen the famous "John Boy" movie. You should rerelease it with commentary.

7:32 PM  
Blogger Timewalker said...

Yeah, it would be a great special feature on the Bruce dvd!

12:49 PM  

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