Saturday, November 10, 2012

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Land of the Lost: "The Musician" (November 15, 1975)

“The Musician” is Land of the Lost’s highly intriguing, Saturday morning version of 2001: A Space Odyssey

Only here, it is Chaka (Philip Paley) -- not primitive man -- who undergoes a sudden, evolutionary leap in intelligence.   We learn from a strange humanoid visitor to Altrusia -- a Builder?-- that now”  is Chaka’s “time.”  And, when the episode is over, Chaka has learned how to play Holly’s recorder, an act which previously eluded him.

One of the most memorable images from “The Musician” finds Chaka confronting a human, evolved version of himself; one also played by Paley.  The human version of Chaka informs the Pakuni that it is his time to be tested, and he wears a uniform that looks like it came straight out of Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979).  Is this form Chaka’s destiny? His form in another universe?

What precipitates Chaka’s evolutionary leap is a visit to the strange temple near the Lost City of the Sleestaks, the temple first seen (but not explored…) in the second season episode called “The Test.”   In a certain sense, I suppose, one might claim that Season Two of Land of the Lost boasts a story arc since elements of earlier stories pay off in later ones, and build on one another. 

Inside the temple, the Marshalls and Chaka find the “great granddaddy of all matrix tables” and it materializes a strange red ring, one apparently belonging to “The Builders.”

I love the idea that Land of the Lost -- on a TV budget and in a time slot for children -- attempts to tell a complex story in the vein of 2001: A Space Odyssey, one that gazes at, explicitly, the idea of intelligence, or genius, and asks (as Will does in the story): “where does it come from?”

I like the idea encoded in “The Musician” (as well as other episodes of the series) that Altrusia is an artificial world created by highly-intelligent, but mysterious beings.  On the temple wall in this episode, for instance, we see a sculpture of human hands.  What role do human beings -- perhaps a future Holly?  -- play in the shaping or maintenance of this world?  It would have been truly fascinating to learn where more about these beings, and their purpose, but a format change in Season Three left the idea unfulfilled.

Still, “The Musician” is likely one of the best episodes of Land of the Lost’s second season since it explores this (abandoned) mythology.  The episode features a Builder (or at least I think it’s a Builder), their strange temple, and the mysterious brain boost for Chaka.

Today, one can only wonder where this storyline might have eventually led if thins had been different…

Next week: “Split Personality.”

Friday, November 09, 2012

Late Night Blogging: Grantray-Lawrence Animation

Cult-Movie Review: Apartment 143 (2012)

Apartment 143 (2012) is a low-budget found-footage horror film concerning a small team of investigators who look into the strange incidents bedeviling a recently relocated family, the Whites.   The film from director Carles Torrens and writer Rodrigo Cortes features some effective shocks, and at least one legitimately great sequence involving a rotating strobe light and the surprise appearance of a would-be specter in a dark room.

While some of the lead performances in Apartment 143 are pretty weak -- notably that of Michael O’Keefe as Dr. Helzer -- the film nonetheless builds up a more-than- adequate head-of-steam in the third act.  There’s a strong sense of suspense accelerating and multiplying as the finale nears.

But irrevocably, Apartment 143 pulls a Paranormal Activity and supplies the audience a valedictory, declarative, unnecessary image that not only undercuts the film’s narrative and thematic point, but actually contradicts it.  

This final, blatant pander to audience demands decimates the film’s impact, favoring a momentary jolt of adrenaline over narrative consistency and logical coherence.

Apartment 143 is by no means a total loss, but its blatant desire to satisfy and answer a question in need of no answer prevents it from ascending to the top-tier of the found-footage pack.

Instead, Apartment 143 is worth a single viewing, but hardly a triumph or high water mark of the form.

“There is no ghost…”

In Apartment 143, a cameraman, Paul (Rick Gonzalez), a professor, Dr. Helzer (O’Keefe) and a “gate keeper” (secretary) named Ellen (Fiona Glascott) visit the deeply-troubled White family, now living in an urban apartment building. 

Mr. White (Kai Lenox) has two children, a disruptive teenage girl named Caitlin (Gia Mantegna) and a cute-as-a-button little boy named Benny (Damian Roman).  The Whites moved from their previous home after the death of Mrs. White (Laura Martuscelli), who suffered from schizophrenia. 

Following her sudden demise, strange paranormal events began to occur in the White home, and Mr. White believes that his wife may be responsible for them. 

Meanwhile, Caitlin believes that Mr. White caused her mother’s death, and that this act of murder is the reason for the ghost’s apparent continued presence in whatever place they choose to call home.

The investigators bring in a medium, attempt an interview with the spirit, and launch a painstaking scientific survey of the apartment by utilizing motion sensors, infrared detectors, and flash-bulbs. 

However, the professor soon comes to a conclusion about the haunting, and shockingly, his conclusion is that there is no supernatural activity in the White home at all…

“It’s all my dad’s fault…”

There have been so many found footage films produced and released at this point, that you can practically predict the characters and their nature from the first frames of Apartment 143.  The camera-guy, Paul, has the bravado, informality, and sass.  The professor has the “belief” and “knowledge,” and so on.  And Ellen is the most sincere and straightforward of the bunch.

There’s nothing particularly original or ambitious about the set-up or these character profiles, but I was heartily encouraged that, in broad strokes, Apartment 143 attempts to portray accurately a seldom seen, seldom-explored aspect of parapsychological literature.

If you’ve seen the classic movie Poltergeist (1982), you may know what I mean.  That (brilliant) movie popularized the idea of a poltergeist as a playful or mischievous ghost, a presence from “outside” normal humanity.

Contrarily, parapsychological studies have long concluded something else about poltergeists.  Poltergeist activity is commonly believed to originate within a living soul -- usually a conflicted adolescent -- and outbreaks of so-called supernatural activity are actually thus manifestations of guilt, anger, repressed sexuality and such on the part of that individual.

Parapsychology: The Study of Psiology explains: "Household objects move with a controlled type of flight that is often visible, sometimes navigating corners and seldom causing injury to the observers, although fragile objects such as crockery and windows may be broken." (p.181).

There aren’t many films that I can immediately think of that have correctly made the distinction in nomenclature regarding apparitions and poltergeist activity.  There was actually a One Step Beyond (1959 - 1961) episode in 1960, “The Lovers,” that accurately dramatized the poltergeist phenomenon, but that’s the only production on this subject that leaps to the memory.     

In some ways, I suppose Stephen King's Carrie is really a story about poltergeist activity, though it isn’t parsed or explained that way, technically.  The book and De Palma film get right, however, the idea that these frightening PK powers over the environment occur at the same time as the hothouse changes of puberty.  There may be even a connection to Apartment 143 and Carrie.  Both families involved are named "White."

Regardless,  I was pleased to see Apartment 143 begin as a kind of “haunting” or “possession” film and then veer into the poltergeist theory of paranormal activity.  I felt that such a distinct choice could distinguish the film in terms of its brethren (much as Insidious utilized astral projection).

I also feel that the theme of emotional turmoil within -- expressed outwardly because of conscious repression -- works ably with the film’s theme, which is that within in a family dynamic, emotional dishonesty can create “monsters.”  In the White family, Cynthia’s schizophrenia does just that.  And interestingly, so does Mr. White’s response to her illness. 

Then, of course, the ability to make monsters is passed on to young Caitlin.  It’s a pretty good set-up structurally and psychologically.

And, to its credit, Apartment 143’s script makes a strong case for poltergeist activity in the White family, given the traumas it has experienced since Mrs. White’s death.  In other words, the story tracks relatively well, and the poltergeist theory seems valid and legitimate to what we see unfold on on-screen. Kai Lennox gets a great moment here -- and one sustained for some time – in which he emotionally lays out the family dynamic. 

And then along comes Apartment 143’s last shot -- aping Paranormal Activity’s disqualifying and ridiculous demon close-up -- to make total mincemeat of all the film’s good, dedicated work.  I suppose the reckoning was that the film needed a final “scare” or “jolt” 

But that final jolt isn’t good enough (or powerful enough, more accurately) to risk pulping the movie’s entire sense of logic and continuity in the process.  The execution of the jolt is ho-hum, but the practical impact of the shot is a giant what-the-fuck moment.  My wife watched the film with me, and we both saw that final shot coming a mile away.  Kathryn actually whispered: “please don’t….please don’t….the movie just spent the whole time explaining what was going on, please don’t ruin it…”

Well it did. 

And the filmmakers also give away the specifics of the jolt on the film’s poster.


As I hope my reviews of them explain, I very much get a kick out of the found footage horror genre.  Right now, it is my favorite horror sub-genre, and we’ve been getting some incredible variations on the form, from the critically-derided Apollo 18 (2012) to the psychologically harrowing Lovely Molly (2012).  Apartment 143 toils hard for seventy-five minutes providing us another intriguing original take on the format. But then the film negates all its efforts in the last minute.  Not a good decision, if you ask me.

I write this assessment with disappointment, because Apartment 143 features at least one truly great sequence.  About mid-way through the film, the investigators are attempting to determine if there is a presence in the house that shouldn’t be there.  They turn off all the lights, and then an oscillating strobe “flashes” in a dark room, panning methodically from one side of the chamber to the other.  We watch with anticipation as the pan starts on the left side of the frame, and slowly moves right, light periodically flashing in the blackness.  On the soundtrack, we get a kind of clicking or popping sound to accompany the lights.  The pan repeats once. 

The pan repeats twice…

The pan repeats a third time and…

…This splendidly-orchestrated sequence does a terrific job of playing on our sense of anticipation, while simultaneously attempting to lull us into a sense of complacency, since all other scientific tests have proven negative.  The visual punch line or pay-off will make you jump from your seat.  It’s very well-accomplished, and it’s because the filmmakers have taken the time and energy to really set-up the shot and play on our expectations through repetition.

Much of the camera work in Apartment 143 is actually quite good, especially as it grows increasingly frenetic.  The film’s climax is practically insane, at least from a camera standpoint, and even if you don’t necessarily feel scared, you’ll feel excited and a bit rattled by the proceedings.

Late in the film, Professor Halzer states that “there is nothing supernatural in the universe because nature can’t transcend itself.”  It’s a good, cerebral line of dialogue, and all through the low-budget Apartment 143, you’ll be rooting for the film to transcend the limitations of its format and really go for broke.  It actually succeeds, but then grasps for that unnecessary and dumb jolt in the last minute.

My recommendation:  watch the film and enjoy it for the story it tells with consistency and clarity.  Then, about a minute before the end -- you’ll know when -- turn it off.  The final jolt is just a gimmick, a fatal pandering to audience expectations, and it’s not even that good of a scare. 

So if you miss it, you aren’t really missing much. 

As cinematic real estate, Apartment 143 is worth a quick tour, to be certain, but the ending could have used some real sprucing up.

Movie Trailer: Apartment 143

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Ask JKM a Question: #50: Donnie Darko?

A reader named Tuomo writes:

“I just watched Donnie Darko Director's Cut. This movie goes right there with Mulholland Drive as one of the scariest movies I have seen. Not scary in the sense of primal fear, but existential fear that makes you question your whole idea of the world around you. And these stories make a great use of the movie as a medium to portray such ideas. I would love to hear your thoughts about Donnie Darko, and maybe recommendations of other movies in this genre.

Tuomo, thank you for a great question.  Donnie Darko is actually one of my all-time favorite films, and I agree with you completely about the vibe of “existential fear.”  Mulholland Drive is in that camp definitely, as are Lost Highway and Inland Empire.

I admire Donnie Darko so much in part because of that intellectual basis for the horror.  I also love it because it doesn't spoon-feed us answers.  It’s a film that I have returned to over and over again, and always find fascinating. 

I’ll review it right here on the blog a week from tomorrow (Friday, November 16th) , so stay tuned.

To Hell You Ride: A Review, and Interview with Lance Henriksen, Joe Maddrey, and Tom Mandrake

To Hell You Ride is the new Dark Horse comic-book from authors Lance Henriksen, Joseph Maddrey and Tom Mandrake, and it’s a symbolism-laden, multi-faceted work that straddles genres and offers trenchant social commentary on our modern world and human nature itself.

Moving with relentless speed, agility, and purpose -- not-unlike like a well-paced genre film -- the first issue of To Hell You Ride is an ambitious opening chapter to a story of epic scope. 

The tale commences in the Colorado Mountains during winter, in the year 1881.  Avaricious white miners seeking gold arrive on Native American land and brazenly interrupt an important ritual conducted by four warriors. 

In doing so, the miners unleash a timeless curse.  This curse is vividly presented in terms of imagery and words:  “Flesh runs away from bone…” 

This horrific prologue quickly and efficiently creates a mythology around a set of supernatural beings called “Watchers” and in addition to Native-American lore, there’s a bit of Lovecraft here too, particularly in the discussion of “The Old Ones.”

To Hell You Ride’s narrative then shifts to our present-day, and introduces our troubled main character, Two-Dogs, a Native-American man who deals with prejudice and a near-total lack of opportunity in a dead-end town.  He is counseled by a friendly sheriff and father figure, Jim Shipps.

Finally, the story’s third section is set during 1939, and it recounts a true story (expressed to Lance Henriksen…) about the surprise resolution of a grim murder investigation.

After reading the first issue, I have many questions about where the story is headed, and how the three time periods connect.  But most importantly, I want to read more. 

If you visit this blog with any regularity, you know that the brand of story that endlessly intrigues me is one that speaks to the issues of our times in a meaningful, artistic way, and doesn’t resort to spoon feeding us obvious lessons or conclusions.  For me, engagement multiplies when there are things to interpret; thing to think about and ruminate upon.

Delightfully, that’s the case here.  What I admire so much about the first issue of To Hell You Ride -- and hope to see continued in upcoming episodes -- is the comic’s very powerful sense of place (with a different palette representing each era), and its confident and yet wholly unconventional reliance on symbolic story telling.  The story’s narration is brilliant and distinctive in terms of the writing, but so much of the tale is also conveyed through canny visual representations.

For instance, the story dwells a great deal on messengers, and the idea of people receiving messages, but rather determinedly not listening to them.  These messengers might be animals, part of the landscape, or something falling from the night sky.

In recent weeks alone, we’ve seen in our culture how some people have steadfastly ignored facts regarding polls and statistics, and even created their own erroneous facts and statistics in their place…to their own electoral peril. 

And of course we saw the landfall of Hurricane Sandy, a “message” about climate change that so many people are still determined not to hear, despite the devastation. 

To Hell You Ride doesn’t tread into anything specific like that, but rather comments on the apparently universal quality of our species to look around and see only the things we want to see, even if Mother Nature seems to be screaming warnings at us.  We seem to want to fit the facts to our beliefs, not let our beliefs be dictated by the facts.

To Hell You Ride also connects that idea of ignoring important information/messages with a scathing commentary on human avarice or greed.  In an unequivocally blunt, even caustic author’s voice, the writers opine “Greed turns men into hungry rats.  They grow fat on the garbage of lust and illusion.” 

It’s a great line on its own, but also a searing, devastating line about our times.   Many in our culture today pursue wealth at the expense of the environment and the expense of their fellow man, and To Hell You Ride, again, seems to see this as a kind of universal flaw in our Western culture.  The Native American culture provides a strong contrast in terms of values, and indeed, that’s the point.  Again, and again, To Hell You Ride forges trenchant comparisons between cultures in terms of listening, in terms of respecting nature, even in terms of how society as a whole faces death, and the rituals surrounding death.

But you have to do some real thinking to connect all the dots here, and that’s a very good thing. The connection between “the messengers” and the men who have grown fat on “the garbage of lust and illusion” is one that requires consideration, and adds depth to the intriguing, three-point narrative. 

The first issue of To Hell You Ride covers an incredible amount of territory, including a commentary on religious and daily rituals that, perhaps, “mean nothing,” or perhaps mean everything.  What I enjoyed so much about the comic’s inaugural chapter is that even though it moves from one era to another, and offers meaningful commentary on our species on quite a few topics, it also feels admirably consistent and coherent.

There is a powerful voice at work here, a voice I believe I recognize --  partially at least -- from Not Bad for A Human…of absolutely no-bull-shit honesty and honest reflection.  That voice isn’t about politics or a partisan agenda, but about blunt, often hard-to-face truths.  And delightfully, it is coupled with scorching, unforgettable artwork reflective of the story’s themes.

And as you know, that’s the zenith for me in terms of aesthetic considerations.  Form must echo, augment, mirror, and reflect content.  The two quality elements must walk hand-in-hand so that the artistic experience is consistent and organic. 

Based on what I’ve seen so far, To Hell Your Ride reaches that apex.

I had the opportunity last week -- after reading an advance copy of To Hell You Ride -- to interview Lance Henriksen, Joseph Maddrey and Tom Mandrake about their original comic-series, and bring up some of the qualities that fascinated me most about their new work.

Part I: Origins

JKM: “Tell me about the origins of this story.  How was To Hell You Ride conceived?”

LANCE HENRIKSEN: “I went to Telluride in the 1970s. It was slightly dilapidated. Quaint but dilapidated.

And I remember sitting at a bar one night and having a beer, and I could see that it was hard for the people there.  I thought, ‘Holy Shit,’ this is the end of the world, literally, and that these people must be reincarnated miners and hookers from the old days. 

I traveled up to an old mining town in the mountains, where no one ever went anymore.  I was intrigued with the idea that they used to hold slave miners up there with just a few riflemen on the ridges, and I thought, ‘what a strange-ass place this is.’

And then I remembered that quote by Dylan Thomas:

I have heard many years of telling
And many years should see some change. 
The ball I threw while playing in the park
Has not yet reached the ground.” 

That quotation made me think of a curse on that land [Telluride]. I saw it as a curse that will come to fruition when it is ready.

That was the seeds of it, and it was just me sitting in a corner.  It stuck with me, and I decided to write it as a movie, because actors when they are out-of-work tend to write movies with a part in it for them.  So I wrote it, and I realized that the themes were there.  I created a mythology, a curse that would take place in the modern day for something that happened in the 1800s. 

As is the case in all good mythology, I saw it as a morality play.”

JKM: “Were you thinking about in it terms of genre?”

JOE MADDREY: “We haven’t had any explicit conversations about what genre it is. 

Lance just told me the opening scene, and he had it mapped out in his head, shot-for shot…the first seven pages of the comic.  He described it to me and I liked the mystery of it, and it sounded like a modern myth.  It clearly had a bit of science fiction in it.  There was a sense of foreboding in it, so there was an element of horror too.  The setting it made it seem like a bit of a western.

But we never pigeonholed it as a genre. We just talked about the story and the characters, and went from there.

Part II: Process

JKM: “Can you describe the writing collaboration between the three of you?

LANCE HENRIKSEN: “I don’t think of myself as a writer, to be honest.  I really think in pictures, and the words just blurt out.  There’s a really interesting phenomenon that was happening while we were working on this.  All three of us seem to be channeling ideas that seem to be coming out of nowhere.  The proof is that you get confirmation from real unexpected places.

TOM MANDRAKE: “There’s usually two ways that you can do a comic.  You can do a full script where the writers writes it, hands it in, and you draw it.  And then there’s the plot style, or what some people call the Marvel style, where the writer gives the artist a few pages of notes and the artist pencils them…and goes back to the writer. 

We’re doing it in a completely different way.  We’re all involved in talking about the story.  We start penciling it, and we make changes.  The three of us work very closely.  We’re constantly talking on Skype about this, and driving our editor crazy.”

LANCE HENRIKSEN: “Our collaboration is like a perfect marriage.  I hate to say that, because we still have three more comics to do….”

JKM:  “Tom, what’s your process so far as bringing the script to the page?”

TOM MANDRAKE: With the scripts, I’ll read them a few times and sit down and think about them.  Then about the third time through, I’ll sit down and start putting down little visual ideas in the margins of the script.  And I’ll start doing thumbnails.  I’ll usually throw in lots more panels than I end up with.  It’s a way to bring out the information. 

It’s not unlike editing a book: you put in a lot more stuff than you end up with, and start refining.  So I might have twelve panels a page when I start out, knowing full well I’m not going to end up with that. I’ll try to find the image which best expresses the story.”

Part III: Themes

JKM: I’d like to go over some of the great and really memorable writing in the first issue.  The book opens with a stunning line that implies something about our culture and its denial about or obsession with death.  “Indian graves are not meant to last.”

LANCE HENRIKSEN: “I hate the idea of autopsies.  Everyone in America gets autopsied.  I would rather wrap myself up in a blanket, climb a tree, and let it all fall apart.  Let nature take its course.  You don’t need crypts made of marble.  The Native Americans have a different point of view.  Theirs is aligned with nature, while modern man is trying to put us all in a vacuum can, for what reason I don’t know.

“I think the thing we tried to do is have respect for the Native Americans, and that’s why we called the first comic “White Man’s Guilt.”  It’s really about respect for what they did.”

JKM:”I have to say, I admire that To Hell You Ride is not your typical clichéd view of Native Americans, right down to the dialogue, right down to the art work.”

TOM MANDRAKE: I spend a lot of time trying to put in Native American elements in such a way that people who understand the culture are not going to look at the book and go “what an ass.” 

There’s way too much of that kind of thing over the years, just sort of a ladling on of Native American decoration without thought as to what it really represents.  We want to infuse this project with the culture, realizing it is not our culture.”

JKM: “Another line that jumps out at me, especially since so much of America is divided today by different belief systems: “What is sacred to one tribe is meaningless to another.”

LANCE: “You can’t escape the messages of the era, including war, and the Muslim vs. Christian thing.  All those things are going on around us, so these lines are part and parcel of our era.

When I was in Australia and New Guinea, I bought some artifacts, like masks from the South Sea Islands.  And one of the things I was told was that a crocodile mask from one tribe was so sacred that women were not allowed to lay eyes on it.  It had to be brought to the men’s hut, where men sit and discuss their tribe and what they need to do. 

But to another tribe, those objects -- like the mask -- are as useless as firewood.  Many tribes are not able to reach across the gulf and respect the other’s beliefs.”

JOE MADDREY: “That line [“What is sacred to one tribe is meaningless to another”] is something you’ve said to me quite a bit, Lance.  That’s one of your philosophies of life, and it fits naturally into your story.  The comic is about respect.  Being respectful of other religions and other cultures… to be respectful of nature; to be respectful of everything you co-exist with.  That’s a through-line.”

LANCE HENRIKSEN: “In the prologue, there’s the whole ritual about asking forgiveness for not protecting the sacred burial grounds. When the white man came along and interrupted it, they turned the ritual into a curse.”

JKM: “Tell me something about how and why your story exists in three time periods…”

LANCE HENRIKSEN: “There are some laws that we are using in the story.  One law is that the way Native Americans think about time is non-linear.  If something happened in 1881, the life of that thing is still happening now.  It didn’t end.  And now we’re just picking up on it, but it’s nevertheless a constant.  There’s no such thing as time, really.

JKM: I notice that the story is separated into three different times -- 1881, 1939 and the present -- and that each time period has a distinctive look.

TOM MANDRAKE: “We do it with color.  Color is becoming an extremely important tool in our time line.  We’re trying to establish color palettes for each time line, and that helps the reader to key in on which time period we’re in.  I have to make sure I don’t draw the wrong props in at the wrong time.  You have to watch for the wrong details.”

LANCE HENRIKSEN: “The transitions in the comic are seamless, John, absolutely seamless.  Wait till you see the second issue.

JKM: “The comic-book form seems ideally suited for this kind of narrative approach…”

JOE MADDREY: “To me, transitions in comics are even more interesting than transitions in film.  I love seeing how different writers and artists shift between scenes and time periods in comics.  The medium allows you to kind of flatten out different planes of reality.”

JKM: “Tell me about To Hell You Ride’s mythology of the Watchers. Is it something you made up, or something that you researched?’

LANCE HENRIKSEN: “It’s a creation.”

JOE MADDREY: “We’ve defined them as we’ve gone along, and we’ve found confirmation for them in a lot of other myths, from many different cultures.  We weren’t consciously searching out inspiration for these things, but we were hitting on something without realizing we were hitting on it.”

We are all paying attention to messengers.  A story doesn’t come out of nowhere.  It’s like talking about zeitgeist.  Elements of this story are floating around in the air, and you pick up on different aspects.  You don’t dream up anything from scratch.  We know the essence and the themes and what’s important, but we’re really open-minded, and have our antennae up so other details can resonate with us.”

JKM: “Messengers are very important in the story. They’re everywhere.”

TOM MANDRAKE: “The landscape [in the comic] is alive, and the appearance of animals is definitely important throughout the story.  There again is another thing.  Once you put your head into that space, messages do start coming to you. Once you open your mind, more and more information is sort of handed to you.  It’s floating in the ether.  This is a much deeper project than many I have been in involved with over the years.”

JKM: “I just have to ask: is the Sheriff Jim Shipps character our Lance Henriksen surrogate in the story.”

LANCE HENRIKSEN: “Yes he is.  You find out more in the second issue.”

TOM MANDRAKE: “I’m glad you were able to catch that.  It means I didn’t screw up.  To me, Jim Shipps was Lance the minute I read it. I don’t think it’s a mistake on the part of Lance and Joe.  Why not take advantage of such a great face?  He’s got a wonderful face for light and shadow to play against.

Part IV: Final Thoughts

JKM: “Lastly, why is this story important to all of you?  Why is it a tale that needs to be told right now?

JOE MADDREY: “To me, if you strip away the specifics of the story, the core of the thing is a pretty timeless myth.  What’s the purpose of a myth?  To try to give you a world view so that you feel like your life has meaning.  So that you are being creative and not destructive.

The story is coming from a very intuitive place for all of us.  It’s coming from a world-view and a belief, and that’s how you should start telling any story you believe in.  That’s how you start any story that’s worth telling.”

TOM MANDRAKE: “When you put your heart into a project, you want people to see it and feel that emotion.  The hardest thing to do in comics is get an emotional reaction from readers.  To have someone say your work means something to them is rare.  And when they do, it makes you feel wonderful.”

LANCE HENRIKSEN: “I’ll answer that question for you, John, when all five issues are out and we’re reading them over a glass of red wine together…” 

You can now pre-order issues one and two of To Hell You Ride, here (#1)  and here (#2).  And for updates about the comic series, check out this page at Not Bad for A Human.