China Crisis

Yet another instance of Batiuk’s famous one-year leadtime biting him in the ass. I thought this was a “pitch” meeting, but apparently these dudes have already had a chance to read the film treatment. Guess Mason and Les are about to learn that Hollywood is reluctant to make a movie that might not sell tickets overseas. Remember the expression “But will it play in Paducah?” Now they’re worried about how it will perform in Panjin.

37 Comments

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37 responses to “China Crisis

  1. William Thompson

    Yeah, Les, China. The country that’s still waiting for you to visit with your not-dead wife.

    • Hitorque

      I like to think smarter folks talked Batuik out of that aborted storyline… It’s not good optics to have a character take his wife to rural China just so she can see some shitty book being printed by some Communist worker drones earning 80 cents per hour and pretend it’s some kind of second honeymoon.

      Nevermind the fact that U.S. companies sending operations and jobs overseas is a very touchy topic, especially in goddamn Ohio of all places…

      And for the record, Les still hasn’t ever made up not getting Cayla an anniversary gift those 5 years ago

      • Christopher Robin

        Ten bucks says that whenever he does remember to give her an anniversary gift, it’s on his and Lisa’s anniversary.

      • Bad Wolf

        I think the destination was specified as Hong Kong, which would have been a reasonable tourist idea whether its realistically a printing hub or not

        My guess was his CK “editor” told him he couldn’t expense account a trip to the Far East and poof, so much for that idea

        (Come to think of it i don’t remember them ever mentioning Les & Cayla’s anniversary again!)

  2. William Thompson

    “That’s why we want Charles Middleton to play Les. With his experience playing Ming the Merciless, he’s got that Fu-Manchu vibe in his favor, Plus her rocks that Satanic goatee.”

    “But he’s still dead!” Les whines.

    “So is this movie if it plays outside of China! Our legal department tells us it’s too much like ‘Love Story,’ ‘Brian’s Song,’ and a whole bunch of other cancer movies. It’s just our good luck that Beijing laughs at American copyright law!”

  3. billytheskink

    “Surprising twists and turns…”

    I assume Marc is referring to the parts where women find Les appealing enough to get and stay married to.

  4. Doghouse Reilly

    Hey, if crafting the film to make it appealing to Chinese audiences means a third act where Dead St. Lisa comes back to life as a hopping vampire who tracks her victims by their breathing, I’ll be first in the ticket line here.

    Meanwhile, can we talk art? Does Masonne’s unicorn horn of air only appear on a Mon./Wed./Fri. schedule? It definitely wasn’t there yesterday, and today in panel one it seems to be trying to cover up an advanced receding hairline. Also, compare the profile of Producer Aaron in yesterday’s and today’s first panels. The pointy nose and Leno-like chin so well delineated on Tuesday have apparently been sanded down to blend back into his skull.

    Lastly, “some surprising twists and turns”? She gets cancer, her condition worsens, and ultimately she dies. What twist am I missing?

  5. Christopher Robin

    Oh boy, this ought to be good. Two things I just can’t wait for: to hear Batyuck’s opinions on how Hollywoo has drifted so far from sensible, traditional values that they feel a need to appeal to niche demographics like the second largest box-office market in the world, and to see what he thinks a studio might do to enhance Lisa’s Story for that market.

  6. Lord Flatulence

    Will it play in Peoria?

    • Hitorque

      That was the question Nixon regularly asked his advisors…

    • LTPFTR

      I grew up in Peoria and it really was a test market for a lot of things. My family got into some market survey program where we got food samples to try out. There was a horrible lemon frozen yogurt that turned me off fro-yo for years!

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Peoria was a popular test market for many years, because it had the same demographics as the United States overall. Most big cities skew from national averages in terms of age, income, ethnicity, and so on. Peoria doesn’t, so it was considered a good sample of the country as a whole.Though this may have changed since the 1990s; I’ve noticed that Denver seems to get a lot of test products nowadays.

  7. Christopher Robin

    “Surprising twists and turns”: traditionally, when an audience goes to see a sappy tragic romance, they expect the male lead to be likeable and attractive.

    • William Thompson

      “I can’t believe that each time I saw one of these characters, I’d find a new reason to loathe all of them!”

  8. Epicus Doomus

    I honestly wasn’t expecting this, although I really should have been. Once again The Great Writer is going to show us just how foul and despicable Hollywood is in that tedious, plodding way of his. The guys bankrolling Mason’s treasured vanity project are already trying to wring every last cent out of it, thus it appears that Batiuk is never, ever going to let it go. I really thought he was going to let the cancer movie work out this time, but he just can’t put down that grudge.

    “China”…I know, it’s just another weird FW coincidence but still, it’s kind of funny in that inadvertently uncanny way of his. It’s like he can almost sort of predict the future but only in a really vague, roundabout and totally obscure way.

    Idea for an Atomik Komix title: “Ponderous Man”, the superhero who can predict meaningless unimportant things. Who’ll finish third in the AL East this year? Who’ll finish sixth in the Preakness Stakes? What will be the price of a large fries at McDonald’s in 2029? Ponderous Man knows.

  9. Are these idiot producers going to make “Lisa’s Story” as a huge budget Marvel movie? Good lord, why else would they need the Chinese film audience?

    • Epicus Doomus

      Here’s the thing that really bugs me about Les, BatHead and the cancer books, both fictional and real. In the strip Les is forever anguished, conflicted and hurt by the many attempts to commercialize his masterpiece of love and loss.

      But in real life it’s the opposite, he’s forever anguished, conflicted and hurt that no one wants to commercialize his masterpiece. And over the course of Act III he’s developed this weird fantasy of what it’d be like to get an offer to commercialize the “real” cancer book and turn it down indignantly like Les does, just for revenge. In his revenge fantasy Hollywood is full of amoral scumbags and he’s the last honorable man willing to defend “art”. It’s pretty messed up if you ask me. Revealing, too.

      The other thing that bugs me about the real book is that it isn’t really a “book” at all, but a collection of previously-released comic strips bound together in one volume LIKE a book. I’m just saying.

      • Christopher Robin

        I believe for once I speak without fear of contradiction that a much better, more coherent and vastly more artistically valuable movie could be made from the book Something Under The Bed Is Drooling.

  10. comicbookharriet

    Gays nameless and faceless? China will love that. But Funkyverse has way too many force ghosts for the Communist Censor.

  11. Hitorque

    1. Repeating my question from yesterday: If Les is so hell-bent on “telling his story properly” and staying pure to his vision regardless of box office gross, why isn’t he seeking out the indie arthouse filmmakers instead of ABC Disney Paramount Universal 20th Century Fox??

    2. What appeal would this story even have in Red China, culturally? Yeah Pixar stuff and superhero movies and stuff with a lot of bullets and explosions work over there, but a small town housewife slowly dying isn’t drawing any crowds… I’m getting the feeling that these execs don’t know their jobs at all…

    • Batgirl

      Not that TB would know or care, but the Asian market loves terminal-illness tearjerkers. The Koreans are super into it, but I’ve watched a couple of Chinese examples, and know of Japanese. Hang on, I’ll see if I can find a list on imdb or somewhere.
      Okay, got one, from a few years back. https://www.scmp.com/culture/film-tv/article/2181018/five-asian-terminal-illness-films-came-more-blue
      It’s fair to say, though, that weepers don’t translate well between cultural markets.

    • Gerard Plourde

      Twists and turns? The twist from this well-established genre (From Now Voyager starring Bette Davis in the ‘30s to “The Fault In Our Stars” a few years ago represent the long line of movies about young people dealing with and dying of terminal illnesses) is that it’s all about Les, just like the rest of the strip. Even Bull’s death morphed into Les complaining about being bullied in high school.

      I’m not sure a about this, but didn’t Les (at Darren’s suggestion) expand Lisa’s Story with a prequel about how they met? (More Les angst)

      Maybe in TomBa’s mind Lisa’s Story has grown into a Forrest Gump-type biopic that covers more than the cancer arc. (Which, as usual, makes it all about Les and still uninteresting.)

  12. Paul Jones

    We’re probably in for an incoherent screed on his blog about how appealing to the Chinese market ‘ruins’ the genre. Also, we can probably expect them to want to cast Jackie Chan as Les or something.

  13. Saturnino

    “and stuff with a lot of bullets and explosions work over there, but a small town housewife slowly dying isn’t drawing any crowds…”

    No, in this one she would be a lawyer representing a defendant sentenced to death and she would get the price of the bullet reduced from 75 cents to 25 cents for the family………..

  14. Double Sided Scooby Snack

    They love Loser’s Story. Of. Course.

    Who doesn’t?

    “Our big concern is China.”

    “China?? What is it??”

    “It’s a huge country with a whole lot of people, but that’s not important now.”

    • Christopher Robin

      Rosenstein: “I know you’re reluctant, but we do have to make some changes. You see, movies as a medium are different from books; it’s an entirely different kind of storytelling, altogether.”

      Moore, Jarre, and Wellman: “It’s an entirely different kind of storytelling.”

  15. Rusty Shackleford

    What part of Lisa’s Story has surprising twists and turns?

    Batty just loves to talk himself up. We should all tweet that lady from the syndicate and tell her to stop letting Batty inflate his ego in his strip. She needs to put a leash on him already.

  16. sgtsaunders

    What twists and turns? Lisa got a misdiagnosis and cancer that predictably kilt her daid. With insight like that on display at Hoodie and Hoodie, China is the least of their worries.

  17. Banana Jr. 6000

    I should be excited about this bizarre turn. I want to hear the insane reasons that Lisa’s bore-y needs to be adapted for the Chinese market. Did she and Les go to Taiwan at some point? What aspect of “two people fall in love, one of them dies” could possibly offend the sensibilities of the CCP?

    But, like an unopened Christmas present you already know is tube socks, Batiuk blunts the surprise with “twists and turns.” This isn’t a murder mystery. It’s not supposed to have twists and turns, nor is it really even a positive to do so. It reveals that Batiuk is just parroting things he’s heard about other movies, without realizing they don’t apply to the one in his story. Even worse, he’s not drawing on his own experiences with Hollywood, because these things wouldn’t have been said to him in real life either.

    Unless a movie producer really did tell Batiuk that Funky Winkerbean and/or Crankshaft: The Movie wouldn’t sell in China. And if that happened, then by God, I want to hear that story.

  18. William Thompson

    I can see why “The Martian” would be popular in China. That story came with a China-related development built into the plot. But does the Chinese ,market expect Chinese characters to be shoehorned into a story set in Waspville, Ohio? Or is this a roundabout way of saying “The Chinese want interesting, likeable characters. Foreigners, go figure.”

  19. Banana Jr. 6000

    Also, I love how Mr. I’ve Been To So Many Pitch Meetings I Can Predict What People Say is geeking out like a child on Christmas morning, while Les, who doesn’t want to make the movie at all, is the restrained one. Even though just yesterday, Mason was calming Les down. This is some top-notch storytelling. These characters really seem real.