Thursday, September 27, 2012

Everyone Should Have a Zombie Mermaid In Their Drawing Arsenal

Here is mine. And she is up and available to be voted upon at Threadless. Each month, they print a number of submissions (some of which are really, really lovely) on T shirts, and pay their artists a really good wage, something which should be supported and commended. There are so many so-called contests out there right now in which the prize is "You get to work for us for free!" that those who have a figured out a business model in which the prize is both work and appropriate payment, should be both commended and supported. Yay, paying people!
Actual money!

I plan on submitting a couple a month going forward, so please (if you wish) bookmark my Threadless profile to keep apprised of what I have posted.

Thanks everyone!

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Secret Adversary: A Web Series

Recently on facebook, I was alerted to the existence of a new web series when a friend commented on a post. (Really, isn't social media the best?) By and large, the web series I've seen haven't been super interesting to me. I love the idea of the form, but most of what I've seen hasn't excited me much content-wise. This all changes with Kevin Townley and Hanna Cheek's new series "Agatha Christie's The Secret Adversary".

I mean, come on. This was clearly made for me.

Anyone who knows anything about me or my blog knows that I am pretty obsessed with classic mystery fiction in general, and Agatha Christie in particular. A while ago, I wrote a blog post in which I sung the praises of what I termed Christie's "Adventurous Flapper" books. Of which, The Secret Adversary is the first. Published initially in 1922, set in 1919 right at the end of the war, it's a completely preposterous adventure starring Tommy Beresford and Prudence "Tuppence" Cowley. Christie went on to write a number of books starring Tommy and Tuppence, taking them into old age in the later entries in the series.

Lots of people consider them among her weaker books, but I've always enjoyed them. One of the main criticisms is that many, many (MANY) people find Tuppence to be a bit insufferable. I watched the BBC versions and thought they were dreadful, they went with the notion that the audience would find Tuppence as entertaining as she finds herself, which is pretty much a recipe for annoyance. One of the wonderful things the current webseries does is embrace Tuppence's self-aggrandizing self enchantment and use it for comedy, and Hanna Cheek is completely hilarious.

Agatha Christie unfortunately edited this scene out of the published version of her novel
The thing that really makes the series is one simple stroke of genius: the actors all dress in 1920s costumes, but it is filmed in and around modern day New York City. It's brilliant. At first it seems like a stunt, but as I've watched further (I've seen the first four episodes), I realize this has freed them utterly from the strictures of doing a period piece without essentially betraying the material. The dialogue is straight out of Christie, and they intend to film the whole, entire thing. I for one, am thrilled. Co-creator Townley has this to say about the production process:
"My idea was that we'd do an unabridged adaptation of the book (there are 28 chapters in it, so we would be set for content for a while) and that our motto would be "GET IT DONE". Any hiccup that would ruin a normal shoot (tourists walking into frame, "losing the light", bad continuity) would just be incorporated into ours. We'd try to get costumes that are as close to period as possible (whatever we could drum up from our own wardrobes or borrow) and shoot as much "on location" as possible; since we can't get to London, Times Square stands in for Picadilly and so forth. We've been kicked out of quite a few places, but we've gotten away with a lot, too! On some days we have access to super whiz-bang camera equipment, other days we shoot on our iPhones. Whatever happens is fine, so long as we really try our best and get it done! Right now we're trying to air a new episode every other week. If we stick to that schedule we should be done in about six months!  It's totally terrifying shooting guerrilla-style because Hanna and I are both terminally polite, but it's also liberating, not being so precious about one's "creative process". Plus, I've always wanted to be in a mystery story, and if I waited for someone else to cast me I'd be waiting till about Two-thousand-never."
One of the things I love about the early Christie mysteries are their breathless energy and their artless good humor, qualities this series embraces whole heartedly. Watch the first episode here, and if you can spare it, give them money! And (ahem), Townley is not the only one who has harbored dreams of being in a mystery story.

Agatha Christie's original dedication in "The Secret Adversary"