Fans of the circus known as Hollywood take note: If you haven’t read Brian Michael Bendis’ Fortune and Glory: A True Hollywood Comic Book Story, you haven’t lived. This hilarious graphic novel (that’s a story told with pictures in a bound, book-like format for all you culture outcasts) shows the absurd nature of the Hollywood beast, and it sends it home with some simple black and white drawings that convey mood better than any four-color spectacle Marvel’s ever dreamed up.
Bendis writes almost every comic book under the sun. Okay, that’s an exaggeration. His writing credits do include Daredevil, Alias, Torso, Powers, Ultimate Spider-Man and Jinx, however. If you’ve read any of them, you know he delivers the goods. In Fortune and Glory he turns his pen to the obstacle course he went through when Hollywood became interested in making a movie of his Goldfish crime comic. We all know the moviemaking process is insane and best left to coke heads, but Bendis masterfully shows us just how screwed up it really is.
In an early part of the story, Bendis is in the Tribeca Film Center where he is being told by one of its representatives that Brian DePalma had to pass on Goldfish because it wasn’t “fair to his family or some such thing.” That strange little comment is the last thing from any of the Hollywood types involved in this story that makes anything resembling sense — and that’s not saying much. And if that scene doesn’t let readers know what they are in for, Bendis being told that Pauly Shore is perfect for the film’s lead should do the trick.
Tragic and true.
I don’t like to use my column to review movies and books, but this is truly one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. In fact, I’ve read it at least once a year since I bought it (which was a few years ago). It’s that good, and it makes me wonder if I ever want any of my manuscripts optioned by the
Comic book movies are still huge box office and (sometimes) critical successes. Bendis’ book offers a rare glimpse of what happens to those that never make it that far. Believe me, it is a lot like watching sausage being made…only far more comical and disgusting. And, in the grand film tradition of sequels, Bendis claims he has more Hollywood stories he’ll share with us at some point down the road. As he says near the end of the book, “Hooray for fucking Hollywood.”
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Posted on January 23, 2004 in Features by Doug Brunell
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