This is a reposting of a story I wrote for my other blog. No one cared over there, so I thought I’d repost it here and see if I could make more people not care.
I have a few ideas that I’ve pitched or even just started and not pitched over the years. I hang on to almost all of these little scraps, sketches and notes in case they come into play some day. Odds are they won’t, but you never know. Some things I know are over. They’re not going to happen. Not going to get published or shot. They are Tales Never Told.
I don’t know all of the early history on this one. My friend Bill “Wiisty” Wiist, who I have teamed up with in the past for the Von Fange Brothers comics, drew a comic page as a gag and posted it on the message board that famous comic book writer Chuck Dixon runs. Dixon is known predominantly for his long run of writing Detective Comics and assorted other Batman titles. He co-created Bane. He’s a great writer and I’ve respected him and his storytelling and even got to eat dinner while sitting right next to him once.
Anyway, somehow this idea comes up for a buddy cop comic starring Chuck Dixon and comic artist Steve Rude. Wiisty drew one full page and posted it to Dixon’s message board. Hilarity ensued. Laughs were had by all. And then Wiisty tracked down Steve Rude’s message board and posted it there.
Now, I’m hazy on what exactly transpired, but somehow it turned into Wiisty pitching this story concept to Steve Rude. And I think his idea was that Dixon would write it. Rude said go for it and he’d run it as an 8-page back up in one of his anthology titles. However, Dixon never committed to writing it and Wiisty came to me. I initially turned him down. Wiisty took a stab at it, but eventually came back and asked if I would help.
So…I said I would.
All I had to go on was the one page story Wiisty drew, an okay knowledge of Chuck Dixon and his personality, and almost no knowledge of Steve Rude and his personality. In reading this page, I thought of TV buddy crimefighting teams from the 80s and decided to take that approach in telling this story.
The story was corny, over-the-top action and had some lame dialog. Fitting for a spoof of an 80s buddy crime-fighting action series. I sent in a rough, first draft for Wiisty to review and for him to pass along to Steve Rude. And I got the feeling that Rude and his wife/editor hated it. And that’s fine. It wasn’t stellar. But then he said he wasn’t fond of the overall concept and wanted to go with something more quirky and less straightforward. He wanted something all-out crazy. He wanted something more like “Beavis and Butthead.” He also said he wanted the art less realistic and sent in a sketch of where he wanted to see the art head.
First, that went against the style of the original piece. Second, I saw one…maybe two episodes of Beavis and Butthead. I didn’t like the show. Making what I was doing like something I wasn’t fond of didn’t sound like fun. I almost quit but Wiisty persuaded me to take another crack at it. So, I said I’d think about it some more.
Wiisty’s not the type of guy to pull a big joke on me, but I have to admit that I was beginning to wonder. But he gave me Steve Rude’s phone number (never used it) and then he sent me a link to a podcast by Acme Comics. In the podcast, Steve Rude was interviewed and went into more details about his plans for his new line of books. In the interview, he mentioned Dixon & The Dude and Wiisty. Although, he said his name wrong.
So the pressure was on. While riding in the car on the way home for Christmas that year, I came up with a rough two-page pitch and started writing a full script for the first issue. Here are the opening paragraphs of that pitch:
As I was reading the most recent Bruce Campbell book, Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way, I decided that the same approach used in that book could be used with Dixon and The Dude. A parody of the comic book creation process told using real people and familiar settings, but in a farcical way.
This story follows the process of two real comic creators as even they have to struggle to find work in this modern day of comic creation. They will come up with a comic they want to pitch and we will follow their adventures as they get the comic produced, printed, and in the stores. Along the way, they will interact with real comic creators like Mike Baron, Graham Nolan, Beau Smith, Matt Idelson, Dave
Sim, and many more.
I felt like I had found the funny and this lent itself to some real topics in comics. Can long-time, proven creators continue to find work in this industry that seems too cool for itself these days. And I was going to draw on some of my own experiences that Wiisty and I went through when we tried to get the Von Fange Brothers comics published years before. It seemed really fun and I was excited about it.
I sent Wiisty this e-mail summarizing the first story:
Basic outline shows Rude and Baron getting into a fight about a project and Baron storming off. Steve decides he needs a new writer to help him and calls up everybody. Jeph Loeb, Mark Waid, JMS, Bendis, all the “hot” guys. No one will help him. Then he calls all the second tier guys. No one will help him. Finally, he gets a call back from Dixon who is very cautious but wants more info on the project. The Dude wants to meet with Dixon in person, but Dixon is getting ready to go on a hunting trip. Trying to impress, The Dude lies and says he loves hunting (although, he’s never actually fired a gun). The Dude meets Dixon and Beau Smith, and some other buddies at a hunting preserve in Kansas. Steve keeps trying to talk to Chuck about the project, but the others tell him to shut up so he doesn’t scare away the animals. Finally, Steve has an opportunity to shoot a deer, but can’t bring himself to do it and he fesses up about his lack of being so manly. Dixon, impressed with this honesty and resolve, agrees to do the project. The story ends with Beau Smith leaning over to Dixon saying “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
So, I begin writing the first script to hand in with the pitch but for whatever reason, Rude needed to see progress right away. So Wiisty sent him the pitch. And he loved it. I got this e-mail from Wiisty:
I sent Rude the stuff, walked away from my desk to get coffee, came back and found a message on my phone. He says he couldn’t be happier with everything. Then he said he wished I had a caricature style like Beavis & Butthead so it would reinforce the lunacy of the strip and would help me turn out pages quicker. He said if I’d like he could sketch out a quick rendition of how he’s thinking each character would look.
He says the stories all work good for him. He asked that at some point you include his “farmer’s daughter” story and then laughed at the joke. He then added that at the end of the story he’d like for him and Baron to be reunited, realizing that they can only work with each other. No one else can stand them.
So, this baby has been greenlit.
If I had some candy cigars I’d be handing them out.
Awesome. I couldn’t wait to knock out some scripts and see this thing in production. Something I didn’t want to be a part of at the beginning had turned into something that was so very exciting. And then, an hour later, Wiisty got another message from Rude. Rude’s wife suddenly liked the first script better and had talked Rude out of liking the new approach.
So I quit. And Wiisty didn’t even try to talk me into it again this time. He knew I was done.
Wiisty took a crack at it again and my understanding is that Rude didn’t like that either. Not giving up, Rude contacted his old writing partner, Mike Baron. Baron took a pass or two at it. I think Baron quit at some point but did come back and finish the script. But Wiisty eventually dropped out of the project and it doesn’t even matter because Rude still hasn’t hasn’t managed to publish much of what he was planning including the anthology.
However, even though this fell through, I think Steve Rude is one of the greatest comic book artists in the business. The World’s Finest mini-series he did was amazing. I was sad when he left X-Men: Children of the Atom because those first two issues are so good. And I do wish this had worked out. It would have been great.